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ICBC speakers deliver powerful message to northern B.C. students ahead of grad season

March 22, 2012

With the graduation and prom party season around the corner, ICBC's road safety speakers are touring northern B.C. this spring to share their personal, heart-wrenching stories with local high school students to remind them of the importance of making smart driving decisions.

On average, 80 youth are injured and two are killed during April, May and June in northern B.C. every year.* Car crashes remain the number one preventable cause of death for youth in B.C. because young drivers tend to be inexperienced, over-confident and take more risks behind the wheel.

"Our speaker program is one way that we're reaching out to students because we care about their safety and we want to help them make smart choices when it comes to driving or getting in a car with their friends," said Fiona Temple, ICBC's director of road safety. "Our road safety speakers tell students about their first-hand experience of horrible crashes that have had profound effects on their lives."

Heather Charlton has 15 years of experience working as a counsellor in social services. She has been speaking in schools across Canada for over 13 years and tells her story as the impaired driver in a horrific crash - and her best friend who died at the scene. Heather will be sharing her youth-friendly, positive and strength-based message with northern B.C. students in March and April.

"Young people have told me that hearing my message has made a difference in their lives," said Heather. "They might not stop partying but they realize that doing drugs and driving impaired is something they won't choose to do any longer."

John Westhaver has been speaking at schools across Canada and the U.S. for almost 10 years. John will share his positive message on choices and how they can have lasting consequences with northern B.C. students throughout May.

"After hearing my presentation, I want young people to gain the strength and courage to speak up when it's important and to stand up for themselves when they're in a difficult situation," said John.

For more than 15 years, ICBC road safety speakers have been sharing their stories with B.C. high school students. Teachers can select a speaker for their students by watching the speakers' video clips on and using the resource guide.

"Every time our school has the opportunity to have an ICBC road safety speaker come and share their message with our students, I know lives are changed," said Mackenzie Secondary School Principal Martin Dugan. "Students listen, the presenters hold their attention. I never hesitate to book ICBC road safety speakers."

In addition to the road safety speaker program, ICBC invests in various road safety programs including the Your Ad Here contest, K-10 school curriculum and B.C.'s graduated licensing program.

Editor's note: Media is invited to attend the following upcoming speaking events in northern B.C. Please contact ICBC (see contact below) to confirm the date and time 24 hours prior.

  • March 26 - Kelly Road Secondary, Prince George - Heather Charlton at 1:00 p.m.
  • March 29 - Chetwynd Secondary - Heather Charlton at 8:45 a.m.
  • March 29 - Mackenzie Secondary - Heather Charlton at 1:45 p.m.
  • March 30 - Duchess Park Secondary, Prince George - Heather Charlton at 12:40 p.m.
  • April 4 - Correlieu Secondary, Quesnel - Heather Charlton at 9:00 a.m.
  • May 7 - George M. Dawson Secondary, Masset - John Westhaver at 10:20 a.m.
  • May 7 - Queen Charlotte Secondary - John Westhaver at 2 p.m.
  • May 8 - Charles Hays Secondary, Prince Rupert - John Westhaver at 10:30 a.m.
  • May 8 - Caledonia Secondary, Terrace - John Westhaver at 2 p.m.
  • May 9 - Mount Elizabeth Secondary, Kitimat - John Westhaver at 1:30 p.m.
  • May 10 - Hazelton Secondary - John Westhaver at 10:05 a.m.
  • May 10 - Smithers Secondary - John Westhaver at 1:03 p.m.
  • May 11 - Bulkley Valley Christian School, Smithers - John Westhaver at 10:05 a.m.
  • May 11 - Houston Secondary - John Westhaver at 2 p.m.
  • May 14 - Fort St. James Secondary - John Westhaver at 10 a.m.
  • May 14 - Fraser Lake Secondary - John Westhaver at 2 p.m.
  • May 15 - Nechako Valley Secondary, Vanderhoof - John Westhaver at 11:15 a.m.

*Statistics are based on 2006 to 2010 ICBC and police data. Youth are defined as age 16 to 21.

Media contacts:
Michelle Hargrave