White Ribbon campaign returns with message to practice safe driving

Michael Doroginsky, a street maintenance worker with the city, hangs a white ribbon at the intersection of Valencia Boulevard and Citrus Street on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Drivers will soon notice large white ribbons attached to light poles at major intersections across the Santa Clarita Valley.

It is a solemn reminder to drive safely.

From May 27 through June 7, the ribbons are scheduled to be in plain sight, as part of the 2019 White Ribbon Campaign aimed at encouraging students to follow safe driving practices, an annual campaign sponsored by the city of Santa Clarita, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Frontier Toyota.

The campaign was launched in 1997 in response to concerns over a rise in teen deaths related to reckless driving across the SCV. The city has executed multiple events over the years highlighting the importance of distraction-free, safe teen driving via its annual Evening of Remembrance event, Heads-Up campaign and Heads Up Teen Video contest.

The city’s traffic statistics show that there have been zero teen fatalities in traffic incidents this year and 2018, and only one in 2017, said city Communications Specialist Kevin Strauss.

With many high school students nearing graduation and in the age to get behind the wheel for the first time, an SCV sheriff’s deputy will visit local campuses to spread awareness about the dangers of driving tired or impaired. Students will also receive white ribbons with cards listing the names of local youth, ages 14 to 20, who have died in traffic-related collisions. This year’s list includes the names of Collin Gore, Maeline “Mads” Rossiter and Wyatt Anthony Savaikie.

“We’re asking the students to wear the white ribbon on their graduation gowns not only to show respect for those teenagers we’ve lost, but also to remember to make smart choices during graduation time,” Deputy Cheryl Hartman of the SCV Sheriff’s Station said in a prepared statement. “This can be a dangerous time in a teenager’s life as a result of being fatigued from studying for finals and celebrating their accomplishments.”

Councilman Bill Miranda, who said he plans to wear a white ribbon at the May 28 City Council meeting, said Tuesday, “I think it’s critical that, especially in this day and age with cellphones all over the place, we preserve lives. The white ribbon campaign message goes beyond one group of people, it’s for all of us. We must stay focused at all times.”

Local residents who would also like to wear a white ribbon can find them at City Hall or the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital gift shop.

For more information about the campaign, contact Elizabeth Arambula at [email protected] or 661-250-3734.

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