High schools throughout the Santa Clarita Valley are encouraging their senior students to pin a small reminder on their gowns to drive safe during the exciting graduation season.
The small, white ribbons encourage students to make smart driving choices and to remember those who lost their lives in traffic accidents during the last five years.
When we started White Ribbon, we decided to focus on the seniors because their attention is not on safe driving because they’re excited, they’re tired,” said Penny Upton, director of the SCV Safe Rides program. “We hope that they remember that they need to slow down and focus on driving safer.”
Since 1997, the Drive Safe White Ribbon Campaign has shared a message of hope to encourage students to have fun during graduation activities without engaging in high-risk activities, like impaired or distracted driving.
Before each high school graduation, deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station visit school assemblies to speak to students and distribute the white ribbons.
“The white ribbons are for distracted driving,” West Ranch School Resource Deputy Toby Coe said. “On your gowns put the white ribbons on there to show your support and be safe when you’re out there.”
With the white ribbons the students also receive a list of names of Santa Clarita Valley youth, ages 14 to 20, who were killed in traffic collisions during the last five years.
This year, the list includes the names of seven Santa Clarita Valley teens that were killed in traffic related accidents since 2011.
Names appearing on the list include: Sarah Alarid, Albert B. Castro, Dakota Demott, Nicole Lynn Hoffman, Madeline “Mads” Rossiter, Wyatt Anthony Savaikie and Jennifer Stift.
Upton believes the Drive Safe White Ribbon Campaign is making a difference among Santa Clarita’s youth. The number of teens who have died in vehicular accidents has gone down in recent years with 17 names of the list in 2003 and only seven names on the list in 2017.
“It’s going in a different direction, it is making a difference and they’re hearing it,” Upton said. “This year none (of the deaths) are from drinking and driving so hopefully safe rides is getting through.”
During White Ribbon Week, from May 22 to June 5, local residents are also encouraged to take part in the program and wear their own white ribbons.
Residents who would like to participate can pick up free white ribbons at the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Gift Shop, Frontier Toyota and Santa Clarita City Hall.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_