Safe teen driving encouraged

Published 12:47 pm Saturday, April 9, 2022

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More teen drivers in Virginia will be involved in traffic crashes between the months of May and August than any other time of the year, statistics show. To help save lives and prevent crashes during the high-risk warm weather months, Virginia schools are kicking off a statewide teen safety campaign this week to establish safe driving and passenger safety behaviors. The campaign, called “Arrive Alive,” focuses on the increased risk of teen driver crashes during the spring and summer months and during prom and graduation.

Thirty-six high schools, middle schools, and youth groups are participating in Arrive Alive which kicked off April 4th and runs through May 6th. During the campaign, students will work in peer-to-peer groups to develop programs and social media messages that influence their peers to be safer on Virginia roadways.

High school students will focus on preventing such risky driver and passenger behaviors as texting and driving, speeding, driving with too many passengers, not wearing a seat belt, underage drinking and driving and joy riding or “cruising.” Middle school students will focus their campaign on how to be a safe passenger, pedestrian and cyclist. Both middle and high school students are being asked to submit plans for continuing promotion of the campaign throughout the summer to reach students while on break.

“YOVASO encourages all schools, youth groups, parents and teens to join the Arrive Alive campaign and help save lives during this critical time for our youth,” said Mary King, YOVASO program manager. “A simple reminder to buckle up, a safety talk with your teen, a message to slow down or a teen encouraging a friend to drive safely can make a difference and save a life, King emphasized. “So please, use and share the Arrive Alive resources and keep spreading this important message to teens in your school and community throughout the summer.”

During the three year period from 2017-2020, teen drivers in Virginia were involved in 31,517 crashes during the months from May through August, with 118 of those crashes resulting in a fatality to themselves or other motorists and passengers.* During the same three-year period, 97 teens aged 15-20 were killed, 10,414 were injured, and 1,291 were seriously injured in crashes between the months of May and August.

Throughout Arrive Alive, students at participating high schools and youth groups will develop a creative project designed to influence change in risky driving behaviors and attitudes among their peers. In addition, they will hold pre and post seat belt checks to measure the campaign’s impact on increasing seat belt use among students. Other activities will include wrecked car displays, mock crashes, pledge signing events, organizing safety rallies and other creative messaging and programming.

Middle school students will complete similar activities and focus their creative project around good passenger and pedestrian safety habits including seat belt use, bicycle helmet use and how to be safe when walking and biking in neighborhoods.

Arrive Alive is sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO) and the Virginia State Police, and is funded by a grant from the Virginia DMV. In addition, grants from State Farm will support prizes and educational incentives and materials.

For more information or to register your school or youth group for the Arrive Alive campaign, contact Mary King, Program Manager at (804) 461-0396 or visit the campaign page. YOVASO is Virginia’s Peer-to-Peer Education and Prevention Program for Teen Driver and Passenger Safety and is a program of the Virginia State Police. Schools, organizations or youth groups can continue to register for the campaign and order materials throughout the spring and summer. The campaign and resource materials are free to all schools, organizations and youth groups to remind teens, youth to slow down, buckle up, and Arrive Alive safely to their destination during this high-risk period. Membership in YOVASO is also free and open to all Virginia high schools, middle schools and youth groups. YOVASO currently has 90 active member schools.

Here are tips to help keep teen drivers safe during the high-risk warm weather months:

• Buckle up every time and in every seating position.

• Slow down and obey posted speed limits.

• Limit the number of teen passengers in the vehicle and obey Virginia’s passenger limitation law for teens. Remember, teens under 18 are only allowed to carry one passenger under age 21 for the first year of licensure unless accompanied by a licensed adult.

• Drive distraction-free. It’s illegal in Virginia to use a hand-held device while driving.

• Drive alcohol and drug-free. Virginia’s Zero Tolerance law makes consuming alcohol or driving under the influence of any amount of alcohol a serious criminal offense for teens under the age of 21. (Va. Code 18.2-266.1)

• Avoid “cruising” and joy riding with friends. This leads to an increased risk for teen crashes.

• Obey Virginia’s midnight curfew which restricts teens under 18 from driving between midnight and 4 a.m.

• Never Drive Drowsy. Never drive if you are sleepy or on medication that causes drowsiness.

• Celebrate responsibly during prom, graduation and summer celebrations. Make a commitment to being safe and arriving alive.