Learn to Drive | Grants for Programs on Learning How to Drive Safely
Georgia high schools make headlines because teens die at the wheel. These often preventable tragedies are due to inexperience and not having learned how to drive a car safely. When tragedy happens, student populations and communities are plunged into grief. In an effort to involve Georgia teens in reducing injury and death, the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) has awarded a $2,000 grant to Coosa High in Rome, GA and Pepperell High in Lindale, GA to enhance Pepperell High School’s existing chapter and Coosa High School’s new chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). GOHS believes that student input into the solution will help teens learn to drive safely and reduce driver fatalities in Georgia.
Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens before they have a chance to develop the experience necessary to learn how to drive a car safely. Inexperienced young drivers, ages 15-19, have a higher rate of crashes, injuries and fatalities than adult and elderly drivers. In 2008, there were 134 fatalities, 13,968 injuries and 85,297 crashes that involved 15-19 year-olds on Georgia’s roadways. According to the most recent data (2008), 41% of the 15-19 year-old passenger vehicle occupants killed or seriously injured were not wearing a seatbelt when driving a car. The inexperience and immaturity of younger drivers are thought to be major contributing factors in the higher fatality rate. (Georgia Accident Reporting Crash Data).
“The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is committed to changing the tragic trend of teen driver deaths in Georgia,” said GOHS Director Bob Dallas. “We’re here to make changes and I believe the SADD students at Coosa and Pepperell High Schools can help us achieve the goal of lowering teen driver, crash, injury and fatality rates statewide. Who better to address the challenges and dangers of teen driving than teens themselves? The fact is that the rate of teen driver deaths in Georgia and across the country needs to change and it needs to change now. I’m confident these SADD students can convince their peers to be safer, more conscientious drivers.”
By having a comprehensive effort statewide, GOHS/SADD plans to cover all learn to drive issues including safety belt use, speed, inexperience, and impaired driving. Participating schools will focus on a variety of highway safety issues throughout the school year.
The Coosa High and Pepperell SADD chapters are planning activities during the year to encourage students to practice safe driving behaviors including seat belt checks and educational programs about other issues such as texting when driving a car and impaired driving.
In addition, the Coosa and Pepperell SADD chapters will send their presidents and advisors to a statewide leadership-training program in the fall of 2011. The training will be attended by representatives from other high schools that received similar grants from GOHS.