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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

OPP constables’ Distracted Driving campaign earns recognition  

MP Tracey Ramsey (second from right) recognized OPP Staff Sergeant Brad Sakalo, Constable Jacqueline Winand-Bacon, and Constable Karen Sinnaeve for having recently received the Police Partnership Award from the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators for introducing a distracted driving campaign that solicited input from high school students.

by Sylene Argent

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey recognized OPP Community Policing Constables Karen Sinnaeve, of Tecumseh, and Jacqueline Winand-Bacon, of Lakeshore, on earning the Police Partnership Award from the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators for introducing a distracted driving campaign, utilizing youth talents.

  Constables Sinnaeve and Winand-Bacon were challenged to come up with public education ideas for 2017. And knowing texting while driving is still a leading cause of collisions, the Community Distracted Driving Campaign commenced in 2017.

  The distracted driving campaign challenged the grade 11 and 12 students from the high schools within Tecumseh and Lakeshore, in three ways.

The students created a stop texting slogan and sign. The winning designs were made signs that could be displayed on vehicles.

  The media arts students created radio public announcements, with the winners receiving air time as far away as Quebec.

  An education day was further held to further emphasize the dangers of distracted driving. During the education day, students were challenged to drive a golf cart while texting or while wearing the drunk-simulating googles. The students also saw recreated collisions and mock arrests.

  Ramsey congratulated the OPP constables on receiving the Police Partnership Award from the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators.

  Sinnaeve explained when challenged to create the campaign, they thought back to when the seatbelt laws were first implemented. Young individuals were taught to buckle up when they got into a vehicle, so it became common practice for them when they became old enough to drive. Those young persons encouraged family members to strap themselves in as well.

  Keeping that in mind, the duo approached a few high schools in Tecumseh and Lakeshore to challenge the students to take ownership of the program. The thought was, if the students get involved with spreading the message, or learn the message from someone their age, they would be more likely to leave the phone alone while behind the wheel.

  “We wanted to give them the opportunity to have a voice. Let them promote the information themselves,” Sinnaeve said, adding they wanted the campaign to be unique.

  “The kids are so creative,” Winand-Bacon said. “They did a great job. If we could change the attitude of kids, we could influence their parents.”

  A message they wanted to send along is that there is no such thing as a small distraction.

  Fortunately, the Optimist Club of St. Clair Beach provided funding for the program.

  Staff Sergeant Brad Sakalo said partnerships and community support were key to making the project a success.

  Currently, the minimum fine for being caught driving distracted is $490 with three demerits, he said.


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