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My many years of counselling thousands of young people has taught me that when you allow your teenagers to take the car to school you are tempting fate. When the male driver invites his friends to go along for a ride you increase the risk.

I still shudder a little when I remember when a car full of Regina Mundi students made their way to grab lunch at McDonald’s Restaurant on Wellington Street South. They were in a hurry and passed some cars on the curve only to have a head on crash.

Two students died in the crash and three needed extensive time in the hospital to recover from the accident. I wager the mental trauma may stay with them for the rest of their lives. The driver survived and now has to live with the guilt that he was the cause of the early death of his friends.

Lest we forget, the teens collided with a car driven by Colleen who had to be hospitalized for many weeks recovering from broken ribs and sternum.

Young people never believe that they can get hurt- nothing really bad can happen to them. They are adolescents and of course believe that they are indestructible.

Both my son and daughter also attended Regina Mundi College in London One hundred percent of the student body are bussed to school.

Many times my children asked if they could drive the family car to school. Our answer was, "No". " The school provides trained drivers to take you and your classmates safely to school." I know it wasn’t cool to be driven to school in a yellow bus. They would complain - " all the other kids...." but my wife and I never relented.

The car insurance rates for young people under the age of 25 is very expensive reflecting the cost of repairing/replacing damaged vehicles. The price of the loss of a youngster’s life is incalculable.

Transport Canada’s statistics for 2009 shows 523 individuals age 15-24, died as a result of motor vehicle accidents and 3000 sustained injuries needing medical attention.

The visits to the funeral home, masses, internment can not heal the pain of the children’s families and friends. The hardest time for me as a counsellor occurred one Saturday morning: I received a phone call from a parent who informed me that there daughter, Candy, had died with her friend Scott trying to thread the needle walk-way on his motorcycle on the Richmond Street Bridge at two in the morning.

It is against the proper order of nature that parent’s should have to bury their children. It is very hard for teens to comprehend that one of their own could come in- to harms way.

The Fall term is the most difficult for students and staff to orientate themselves to a new school year. They should not have to face the harsh reality of losing fellow classmates in a motor vehicle accident.

There are answers to our dilemma:

Senior administrators should demonstrate some leadership. Parking fees should be charged to students who wish to use the school parking lots. Only those students who have a valid reason to drive to school should be granted permission.

Western/Fanshawe students have to purchase a LTC bus pass as part of their fees with unlimited bus service for the school year seven days a week from 6.30a.m to 11.30 p. m, on week days with the last bus leaving downtown at 12 a.m on Saturdays.

The LTC should be approached to make similar bus pass arrangements for the local public school boards.

Ultimately, the buck stops at mom/dad’s door and we are obliged to make hard decisions and say "No." How many of you allow your teens to drive or be driven to by a classmate to school? Why?

Taking a chance on giving your youngster the keys to the car to go to school is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with your children’s precious lives. Folks please make wise decisions- your families well being may be at stake.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com