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New drivers prepare for the road
Information sessions focus on safety

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011

If Marg Der Fong could impart one lesson to young drivers, it's that their attitude is one of the most important factors when they're behind the wheel of a vehicle.

NNSL photo/graphic

Driving instructor Marg Der Fong stands with a list of major driving errors, one of the topics she covered during an information session in Fort Simpson for young drivers sponsored by Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

Many young drivers don't realize how risky driving is until it's too late, she said.

"A lot of times something has to happen before the attitude is changed," said Der Fong.

Der Fong, a driving instructor with Arctic Response Canada Ltd. with 40 years of experience, led a series of three safety information session for young drivers at Thomas Simpson School on Nov. 24. The sessions were sponsored by Enbridge Pipelines (NW) Inc.

Parents and students

Der Fong worked with Grade 10 students in the morning and Grade 9 students in the afternoon and held a session for parents and students in the evening.

"I want to get them prepared to get a learner's permit," she said.

Der Fong provided the information needed to obtain a driver's licence in the territory and covered important safety information.

Highway conditions are almost always blamed for accidents, she said. It's important to realize that drivers are to blame 90 per cent of the time.

The worst driving mistakes are inattention followed by excessive speed, lack of seatbelts being worn and distractions in the vehicle, said Der Fong. Accidents also often occur when people are driving in reverse.

"We assume no one is there," she said.

In the evening session, Der Fong interspersed stories of driving errors with safety information. To illustrate the importance of using proper reversing techniques, Der Fong shared a story of how she broke the side-view mirror off a vehicle by reversing into a telephone pole that she swears hadn't been there when she parked.

Der Fong also has a message for parents of students who are learning how to drive.

"Get the students proper training to start off with," she said.

Parents often teach their teenagers how to drive, but the question is who taught them what are they passing on, said Der Fong.

"The kids are going to follow whatever you're doing," she said.

When parents do take their teenagers out driving, they should be patient with them and make sure they are practising proper driving techniques such as coming to a full stop at stop signs, she said.

To highlight how dangerous driving can be, Der Fong concluded the sessions with a series of videos showing the possible consequences of inattention, fatigue, alcohol and drugs, and speeding.

In each case, the scenario ended with a fatal crash.

"(The students) were fascinated by the videos," Der Fong said.

Students normally only see crashes in action movies, when they know they aren't real, she said.

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