Thousands of teenagers impacted by Manitoba Public Insurance’s popular Friends for Life speaker series

Thousands of Manitoba high school students will listen to impactful, first-person stories of how making a bad decision can lead to death or life-changing injuries as the result of an automobile collision through Manitoba Public Insurance’s popular Friends for Life speaker series.

Visiting nearly 40 schools, three keynote speakers will each share their unique and heart wrenching experiences with the goal of changing thinking and ultimately preventing high-risk behaviours in Manitoba’s youngest drivers.

“Making good decisions before a person puts the key in the ignition, and while driving, is the overriding message with Friends for Life,” said Ward Keith, vice-president, Business Development & Communications and CAO, Manitoba Public Insurance.

Manitoba Public Insurance statistics report that youth aged 16 to 19 are nearly four times more likely to be involved in a collision while impaired compared to drivers aged 25 and older. Meanwhile, an average of 29 Manitobans are killed yearly on roadways due to distracted driving. By delivering understandable, powerful, preventative messages to teen drivers, the goal is to reduce collisions and fatalities which far too often, can be prevented.

“With the impending legalization of cannabis, our Corporation is focused on heightening awareness about not only alcohol-impaired driving, but also the extent to which cannabis and other drugs, including prescription medications, can impair driving ability. Evidence has suggested that young people are increasing their use of drugs, with cannabis use now reported as more common than alcohol consumption,” Keith said.

“Combining inexperience behind the wheel with a general lack of maturity and low awareness of the cognitive effects drugs can have on driving ability, new teen drivers are at particular risk of being involved in motor vehicle collisions. Our Friends for life speaker series is aimed specifically at reaching that age group.”

Presented in conjunction with the Manitoba School Boards Association and Teens Against Destructive Decisions, Friends for Life has reached more than 100,000 students over the past five years.

About our speakers:

John Westhauver: A fatal crash changed his life forever. Several of his best friends were killed and John suffered severe burns to 75 per cent of his body. John uses living through the aftermath of the accident to talk to young people about dangerous driving behaviours in the hope that his experience could prevent other fatal crashes from happening.

Cheryl Tofin: She tells students about the heart-breaking story of losing her 16-year-old daughter in a drunk-driving collision. Cheryl describes the gut-wrenching emotions she went through following her daughter’s death.

Amanda Stuhl-Oling: Amanda lost her father in an alcohol-related collision. She describes how a teenager’s choice to drink and drive changed her life forever. This choice not only impacted two communities but also deeply affected the driver’s family and friends.

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