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Students set sights on seatbelt safety

Georgian College police foundations students launch Operation SAVE

Georgian College students in Orillia are hoping an awareness campaign will click with drivers.

Second-year police foundations students Mckayla Cotey, Taylor Dennison, Hannah Green and Lexus Harper have started Operation SAVE (Survive and Value Everyone) in an effort to encourage drivers and passengers to buckle up.

It’s part of a project their class was assigned to raise awareness about the “big four” fatal driving habits: aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving and lack of seatbelt use.

This group of students decided to focus on the one that seems the most obvious yet is often ignored.

“The other three are really important, but it just seems like such a simple concept that is being overlooked — you get in your car and you buckle up,” said Harper. “Wer wanted to keep the attention on seatbelt safety.”

The group has a Facebook page, where videos and other material are being posted. The students will be posting the interviews they conducted with three women who were involved in separate collisions. One wasn’t wearing a seatbelt; another was seriously injured because she had placed the chest strap behind her back; the other was wearing her seatbelt properly and survived a rollover unscathed.

“By doing the interviews, you bring it to life,” Harper said. “Accidents happen, and seatbelt safety is so important.”

While statistics show 93 per cent of Canadians wear seatbelts, those who do not account for 40 per cent of collision fatalities.

“I don’t know if people think they’re too cool to wear a seatbelt, but it can be catastrophic,” Harper said.

She explained the meaning behind Operation SAVE: “By wearing a seatbelt, you’re surviving. By buckling up, you value everyone else that is around you because you’re not becoming a weapon in your own vehicle.”

Harper and her group saw this class project as a chance to raise some money, too. They have created stickers that are being sold for $2 each, with proceeds going to the Canada Safety Council.

“They are geared toward young drivers and they focus on seatbelt safety,” Harper said of why the council was chosen to be the recipient of the money raised.

The stickers can be purchased at Heidi's RV Superstore on Highway 11 South in Oro-Medonte, Beach Bodies Tanning on West Street North in Orillia, Sunshine Super Wash on Front Street in Orillia, Faye A. McFarlane and Associate law office on West Street North in Orillia, and Foodland in Alcona.

The awareness campaigns are a competition, of sorts, among police foundations students. They have to finish the assignment by Nov. 13. That’s when they will present it to their class. Their teacher will then pick the top nine groups, and the Ontario Provincial Police will narrow it down to three, with prizes for those groups, including a helicopter ride for the winners.

“Regardless of the outcome of this, it’s nice to raise awareness,” Harper said, adding the campaign will continue on the Operation SAVE Facebook page.


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Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the desk editor for Village Media's central Ontario news desk in Simcoe County and Newmarket.
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