Fb. In. Tw. Be.

About Us            Advertise            Contact Us

27 Jan, Friday
0° C
Image Alt

Montreal Families

Keeping teens safe with taxi coupons

In the early morning hours last July, three 16-year-old girls accepted a lift home from an 18-year-old acquaintance. Within a short time, their lives were changed forever.

The driver lost control of the car on a quiet, residential street in T.M.R. and slammed into a tree. The young women were severely injured in the accident. Two of them lay in a coma for almost a month. All three girls underwent rehabilitation and one will need to be fed intravenously for life. The driver now faces charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, dangerous driving causing injury and street racing.

For the families of the young women, watching them struggle to regain some semblance of a normal life has been devastating. Angered both by what they perceived as slow-moving police investigation and outrage at the destruction caused by reckless driving, the girls’ fathers, François Rozon, Nicola De Iorio and Michel Méthot, went public last fall with their story. They made the rounds of various media to discuss ways to reduce driving accidents and deaths, particularly for young adult drivers.

Then a viewer sent an email wondering why there wasn’t a way to offer pre-paid coupons that would allow young people to take a taxi home. The three men immediately saw the benefit of such a program and set to work. By December of 2010, they had convinced the taxi industry organization, the Comité provincial de concertation et de développement de l’industrie du taxi (CPCDIT), to create a program called Cool Taxi.

The idea is simple: people buy coupons in values of $5 or $10, which can then be used to pay for a taxi ride. The coupons can only be redeemed for taxis (unlike cash sitting in a wallet, kids won’t be tempted to spend the money on food or drink).

The coupons are accepted by taxis across the province and are sold at Couche Tard stores, Familiprix pharmacies and at the call centres of participating taxi companies (a list of purchase points is available at www.cooltaxiquebec.ca).

Cool Taxi was started just prior to the December holidays, and the response from people has been excellent, says dad Francois Rozon. The coupons are being purchased not just by parents, but also by adults who worry about their friends driving home after drinking a few glasses of wine.

Rozon adds that the Cool Taxi campaign is also raising people’s awareness of reckless or impaired driving. “What happened to our family could happen to anyone,” he says, adding that people need to talk more often with their teens about safe driving, reducing their speed and not taking chances when behind the wheel.

Rozon admits he never thought such a horrific accident would happen in a quiet suburb. “I would worry about my daughter being driven back from Mont Tremblant — suggesting they stick to the back roads — but I didn’t expect this to happened in T.M.R.”

Rozon adds that his daughter will carry the physical and emotional scars of the experience for life, and he hopes Quebec drivers will take a hard look at their driving habits. There is no reason for recklessness or stupidity when behind the wheel. When it comes to safety, he notes, “We need to be vigilant.”

Road accidents in Quebec
The societé de l’assurance automobile du Quebec (SAAQ) compiles information and statistics on road safety in the province. In its most recent report, looking at the year 2009, researchers noted there were 138,808 road accidents that year, with 32,061 of those involving bodily injuries and 476 deaths. While the number of accidents has dropped more than 10 per cent over the past five years, the report noted that an increase in the number of people driving means safety must continue to be a priority to ensure the accident and death rate doesn’t rise.

Post tags:
You don't have permission to register