December 2, 2013
LONDON, Ontario – For over 20 years, London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) trauma program has been making an impact on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of teenagers to reduce drinking/drugging and driving through its Impact program. Impact aims to heighten teen awareness of the potential consequences of high-risk behaviour.
On National Safe Driving Week, Dec. 1 – 7, LHSC’s trauma program has announced that the Impact program, supported since 2007 by Children’s Health Foundation, will be expanded to incorporate other driving issues teenagers are facing such as distraction and fatigue and behavioural issues such as binge drinking and peer pressure.
Over the past year, LHSC’s injury prevention team conducted focus groups with over 200 grade 10 and 11 students at 10 London and surrounding area secondary schools. “We wanted a fresh understanding of all the issues affecting teenagers and driving in order to educate them about the consequences of high-risk behaviour in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them,” says Jane Harrington, injury prevention specialist, LHSC.
The focus groups at secondary schools revealed that 55 percent of high school students surveyed drank alcohol in the past year, 22 per cent had used cannabis in the last year, 14 per cent had used opioid pain relievers in the last year and 8.7 per cent had smoked cigarettes. Notably, the use of drugs increases with grade.
“Many of the results we found were expected, but we also received feedback from students about texting and driving, self-harm, abusive relationships, same sex relationships, and peer pressure,” continues Harrington. “These issues do not affect teenage driving behaviours, but they can lead to injury.”
Students were also asked about the effectiveness of injury prevention messages and identified that they would like presentations to focus on personal experiences with relevant video and images.
Acting upon that feedback, LHSC’s trauma program partnered with Josh Field Support Network, a non-profit, family based organization, with the mission of raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. Together, they created a video to be shown during Impact presentations that would provide a personal and relevant experience.
The video - “Distracted Driving - Josh’s Story” – focuses on the impact that one moment of distraction still has on Josh’s family, friends and a community four years after Josh was tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision.
“Distracted Driving - Josh’s Story” can be viewed on LHSC’s Youtube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/LHSCCanada