News / Ottawa

Teach teen drivers to respect the road: Ottawa cop

Young drivers suffer the largest number of injuries on Canadian roads, but tackling bad habits head on could save their lives.

Teens suffer the most injuries on Canadian roads, and speeding, distraction and drinking often play a role.

Metro file

Teens suffer the most injuries on Canadian roads, and speeding, distraction and drinking often play a role.

Every interaction with a teen driver is a teachable moment, says Ottawa police traffic Sgt. Eddy Yeoumans.

Just last week, he stopped a truck-full of high schoolers because they weren’t wearing seat belts.

But instead of a ticket, he offered some perspective.

“I said to the driver, ‘How would you feel if … you killed or injured one of these people?’” said Yeoumans. “The five minutes interaction I had with them was much better than giving them a ticket.”

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week. According to Transport Canada, young drivers aged 15 to 24 suffer the most injuries of any other age group – and the injuries tend to be worse.

In 2014, the group suffered 2,100 serious injuries on the road, and 340 people were killed.

Yeoumans said speeding, drinking, distracted driving and not wearing a seatbelt are all too common in those cases.

“They feel they need to show off,” Yeoumans said.

While street racing isn’t much of an issue in Ottawa, “I find teens will put their foot down when no one is around,” he said.

And texting and driving persists. Teens today have grown up with smart phones and expect to have them on at all times, Yeoumans said.

He encouraged parents, teachers and fellow passengers to reinforce safe driving habits.

“We’ve got to try to get them early,” Yeoumans said. “Every interaction you have with a young driver, you have an opportunity for education.”

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