St. Joseph High School students watch a video as part of the Drive to Stay Alive presentation by professional race car driver and Red Deer native Parker Thompson. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

Car racing pro teaches Red Deer students the dangers of distracted driving

Parker Thompson’s Drive to Stay Alive presentation comes to St. Joseph high school

St. Joseph High School students are learning the dangers of distracted driving from a professional race car driver.

Red Deer native Parker Thompson was in Red Deer Tuesday morning delivering his Drive to Stay Alive presentation to the Catholic school’s students.

Thompson, who is a USF 2000 Championship driver under contract with JDC Motorsport, started the program in 2015. The 20-year-old presents in high schools across the country, with the goal of educating teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving.

“If you have a license, you are obviously responsible for yourself and the vehicle,” he told the packed gym.

“If you are a driver and you’re carpooling your friends, if you have any passengers, the driver is 100 per cent responsible for everyone in his or her vehicle. So definitely understand that one too. It’s a big responsibility if you take someone in your car — their lives are in your hands.

“When you’re a driver, you are responsible for the bicycles, the pedestrians, the other vehicles,” he continued. “You’re responsible for it all. You’re responsible for everything around your vehicle. And when you’re distracted driving, you’re not only endangering yourself, you’re endangering everyone around you. So please, next time you get behind the wheel, just remember those three things.”

The Drive to Stay Alive campaign is a one-hour engaging presentation that combines insights from Parker’s racing career, with statistics that show the importance of driving safe.

Using student interaction, the presentation provides practical insights to avoid distractions while driving.

Vice-Principal Ian Stang with St. Joseph High School said the campaign is important for high school students because many of them drive or are learning to drive.

“We’ve got lots of students that drive to school every day and for those that aren’t driving yet, they are quickly going to be drivers. So the message is just so important, especially because of the world we live in. This is just the message that we believe students need to hear.

“We’re thrilled to have him. It’s neat that he has that Red Deer connection, so for us, it’s a neat connection to our school communities.”

Distracted driving is the number one cause of vehicle collisions among Canadian youth, according to the Drive to Stay Alive website.

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