Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Community works together to stop teen traffic deaths

From: KSPR 33

Car wrecks are the number one killer of people age 15 to 24. Almost six thousand are killed in wrecks each year.

Now the Safety Council of the Ozarks thinks it may have a way to reduce those numbers in the Ozarks.

For years the Safety Council of the Ozarks has had a program called “Alive at 25.” If a teen gets a traffic ticket, a judge can order them to take a 4 hour driver safety course. Now the council wants to extend the program so that more young people will learn valuable driving lessons.

The idea to change the program came after South Carolina saw a 47% drop in teen driving deaths.

The South Carolina Safety Council worked with schools to make its “Alive at 25” program mandatory for students with cars.

In Springfield, a group of law enforcement officers, and school administrators from across the Ozarks came together to work on a plan to make similar changes in Missouri.

“What we try to get parents to understand is when their child gets a driver’s license, don’t just give them the key. They need that experience. They need that training. They need that education to help them be a better driver,” said Debora Biggs, Executive Director of Safety Council of the Ozarks.”

To reduce teen driving deaths in South Carolina, schools started requiring any student wanting to park a car on campus to take the driving course. That course is taught after hours in the schools. Each teacher is on off duty police officer that has gone through a special training course.

Brooke Russell helped make the changes to the South Carolina program. She says it wouldn't be so successful if it weren't for all the help from the community.

“We believe that Alive at 25 is a program, but it takes collaboration of our law enforcement, our parents, our teachers, and the community to create a culture change and to bring awareness that driving is truly a responsibility,” explained Russell.

The Safety Council of the Ozarks is working with police, and area schools to implement changes similar to the changes made by South Carolina. It says if a school district wants to start the program, it can work with them to make it fit the needs of that specific district.