A bit of smoke billows from the t-shirt cannon

Racing cars not as scary as driving distracted

Alberta teen speaks to Ponoka high school students on distracted driving.

Getting a message from a peer usually strikes a big cord, especially with teenagers.

Combine the message about distracted driving with someone they think has a cool career plus a great presentation and you get lots of buy-in of that message.

Parker Thompson just graduated from high school last June and races cars at over 200 miles per hour for a living, so he’s already got that cool factor covered with his fellow teenagers. So, the fact he is bringing to light the dangers and consequences of distracted driving makes his presentation even more poignant.

Thompson, 18, was at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) on Nov. 24 to speak to students from Grade 10 to 12 about Drive to Stay Alive —a campaign to make distracted driving, plus texting and driving, a thing of the past by educating youths about how it can affect everyone.

“When I was 16, a couple friends were involved in a terrible accident caused by distracted driving,” he told the crowded gym at PSC.

“Hundreds of people die or are injured by distracted driving incidents each year in Alberta and it’s the leading cause of deaths on our roads. If you think you can multi-task, it will catch up with you.”

Thompson just finished his second season driving in the USF2000 circuit, the first step on the ladder to the open wheel Indycar series where fellow Canadian James Hinchcliffe drives.

One statement he made in his presentation really got a reaction from the students, including a number of wows and gasps.

“I feel much safer in my race car going 200 kilometers an hour on a track than I do in daily driving on Alberta roads,” he said.

“The survival in a crash at 50 kilometres an hour is low and any distraction raises that chance. Five seconds can change your life.”

To further illustrate, Thompson talked about a 90 mph crash during a race three years ago that left him in hospital unconscious for three days and showed a video about how answering a text while driving led to the death of one Ontario teenager, Josh Field, and what effect that had on his family and friends.

“It’s amazing how fast it can take to change the lives of many people,” Thompson added following that video.

“Don’t be selfish. Realize the responsibility you have.”

To put it all in perspective, Thompson explained 20 to 30 per cent of collisions are due to distracted drivers, who are also three times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Distracted driving is normally associated with texting or using a cell phone, but can also include reading, applying makeup and eating, all of which can lead to a ticket with a $287 fine and three demerits or a charge of careless driving that comes with a $402 fine and six demerits. Worst of all though, Thompson pointed out, is the risk of a collision and the potential you could die or cause the death of someone else.

“Why would you spend years working on what you want to do, only to throw it away in five seconds?”

For more information about Thompson’s campaign, you are encouraged to check out Drive to Stay Alive on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit his website at www.parkerthompsonracing.com.

 

Just Posted

Let the Games begin!

Team Alberta takes home gold and silver in speed skating on day one

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Athletes’ medals unveiled at the official kick-off of 2019 Canada Winter Games

Medals depict Central Alberta landscape and pay tribute to First Nations

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

Mermen calendar targets ‘toxic masculinity,’ raises big money for charities

Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club gave a cheque for more than $202,000 to Violence Prevention NL

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Team Alberta takes exciting victory in wheelchair basketball, remains undefeated

After three games in the tournament, Alberta is sitting in first place of its pool

UPDATED: ‘Violent’ B.C. man back in custody after Alberta arrest

Prince George man with ties to Vernon was being sought by police

After a week away, SNC-Lavalin questions await MPs returning to Parliament

Two have resigned already: Jody Wilson-Raybould was veterans affairs minister and Gerald Butts was Trudeau’s principal secretary

Chanel: Iconic couturier Karl Lagerfeld has died

He spent virtually his entire career at luxury labels catering to the very wealthy

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Body found after apparent house explosion in Calgary, police investigating

Sgt. Dwayne Lepchuk declined to say whose remains were found

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Most Read