Helping Teen Drivers Become Street Smart
With another school year just around the corner, many students are undoubtedly trying to make the most of their fleeting freedom while parents eagerly count down the days until school starts. But don’t get too carried away. For teens, this time of year is particularly risky and falls within the “100 Deadliest Days” for young drivers on the road according to the National Safety Council.
To help prepare students for this dangerous period, Drug Free Collier recently partnered with the Collier County Public Schools to introduce an important and interactive program known as Street Smart. The program made possible through the generous support of Coastal Beverage helped to kick off the Collier County Public School’s
Summer Driver’s Education Program. “Our Driver Education Program is focused on children’s safety and communicating risks and tools for parents,” said Tracy Bowen, district TSA for Health, Physical and Driver’s Education.
The program covered topics such as distracted driving, driving under the influence, fatigued driving, seatbelts and more. More than 150 students and parents listened intently as the Street Smart presenters shared real-life scenarios with the audience. “We were very pleased to bring the Street Smart program back to Naples,” said
Shawn McGrail, Vice President of Coastal Beverage. “Preventing underage drinking has always been a priority for us but now with technology, we are realizing more and more that distracted driving is a major problem. We want everyone to understand the importance of wearing seat belts and never drive while talking or texting on a phone,” he said. “We knew Street Smart could deliver this important message because they deal with it first hand on the street every day,” McGrail added. “If we changed the behavior of just one person, we know this was a success.”
Since car crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., Drug Free Collier is actively working with local community partners to find solutions. “Protecting our children is our primary mission,” said Melanie Black, Executive Director of Drug Free Collier. “Although our focus is substance abuse, we recognize that other risks may also threaten today’s teens. Thanks to this program, we have an opportunity to save young lives,” Black added.
The program also included a brief presentation by Nick Healey, the 17-year-old Barron Collier High School student who severed his leg during a car crash in Georgia over Spring Break. Learning to overcome new challenges each day, Nick remains positive and is determined to help others. He willingly shared his story and urged students to remain vigilant behind the wheel.
“The kick-off of Driver Education would not have been as successful without the courage and motivational spirit Nick Healey shared with his peers and community members,” said Bowen.
“I am honored to collaborate with community members that work so closely with my department to make monumental strides in offering quality and profound information in our summer driver education program so that both students and parents are involved in receiving and communicating valid and meaningful presentations,”
Although the “100 Deadliest Days” end on Labor Day, parents are encouraged to consider some valuable year-round safety tips.
- Spend at least 30 minutes each week driving with your teen even after he or she gets a license.
- Discuss seat belts, cell phones, and other expectations on a regular basis.
- Talk to your teen about drinking and driving.
- Enforce a Driving Curfew – no later than 10 p.m.
- Limit passengers.
- Enforce A Parent-Teen Driving Contract.
This life-saving program also served as a fundraiser to help support Nick Healey’s continued recovery. Donations were collected during the event with a generous matching gift from Coastal Beverage. For more information, contact Drug Free Collier at 239-377-0535 or visit us at www.DrugFreeCollier.org.
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