2015 Affected Family Member Luncheon

At Impact Teen Drivers, we work closely with people who have been affected by reckless and distracted driving. The majority are parents who have lost a teenage son or daughter to a car crash that could have been prevented. We also work with young adults who took the lives of other young people because of the choices they made while behind the wheel. Car crashes due to reckless and distracted driving represent a health epidemic whose myriad symptoms and complications are hard to quantify. One thing is certain though: this epidemic can be stopped. As a society, we should not wait for even one more loss of a child to compel us to change the culture of driving. These crashes are preventable, and no one understands that better than the families who have already lost a child.

As we enter the new year, we our organization wanted to do something that recognized the work of this group of brave and generous individuals, so we hosted a luncheon to salute their service and thank them for choosing to share their stories. Their stories serve as a powerful reminder how just one poor driving choice can cost a life. Through their stories, drivers and passengers are empowered to make better decisions and ultimately change their behavior. It is through this process that we believe we can reform the culture of driving and save lives. 

As a team, we also wanted to show our dedication to the cause, wanted our affected family members to see who is championing their stories day in and day out. And we are just the core group. Law enforcement, educators, health professionals, student leaders, and just generally concerned community members learn and share these stories as well; each story has remarkable reach. By choosing to share their stories even just once, the families in the room empowered our organization to be sustainable and impactful.

Executive Director of Impact Teen Drivers, Kelly Browning, shared a quote she remembers a teacher from graduate school saying, “People often say adversity builds character, but I believe adversity reveals character.” Dr. Browning went on to speak of the strength of our families, the generosity of spirit they possess—choosing to share the worst moment of their lives with complete strangers so that others may never experience the losses they’ve faced. We will not stop sharing these powerful personal stories until we have put an end to reckless and distracted driving, and we are not joking when we say we want to work ourselves out of a job. To see how you can join the movement, explore our website or email info@impactteendrivers.org if you want to bring an evidence-based program to your community. Most importantly, choose to drive safe and distraction-free every single time you drive.


The Dangers of "Driving Selfies"

Infographic from Yourlegalfriend.com

Driving Selfies infographic Sending a text or making a call while driving is extremely dangerous for both ourselves and those around us, but the dangers of phone-use are not limited to texting or talking. Taking driving selfies is another huge threat to traffic safety 

A recent European study revealed that an alarming number of young people have been joining in with the #drivingselfie craze across a range of social networks.

Cell phone usage while driving is an enormous problem, and research shows that one in four European youths admitted taking a selfie while driving a car. Each month, 884 social media users share 916 statuses tagged with #drivingselfie, suggesting that some users are driving distracted on more than one occasion.

A trend can make something seem okay, but if you are tempted to post your own driving selfies, you must consider the risk that you are taking. In April this year, 32-year-old, Courtney Sanford died in a head-on collision on a North Carolina highway just seconds after posting selfies to Facebook. She had been updating her status with a post that read “The happy song makes me so HAPPY.” A minute later police were called to make reports of the crash.

Automobile collisions have been the leading cause of death for American teens for generations.

Engaging with hand-held technology increases the risk of getting into a crash by three times and in 2012, 3,328 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes. Worryingly, it’s estimated that approximately 660,000 drivers are using their cell phone or another electronic device while driving at any given moment in the day. 

Checking social networks while driving can take up as much as 20 seconds, and in this time you could travel the distance of five soccer fields at the speed of 100 km/h. Don’t let a driving selfie be the last social media post you ever make. Pay attention to the road and stay safe. 

Laura Moulden is a road safety writer for Your Legal Friend. Click here to see the full post.



Engage to Educate: Evidence-based Saves Lives

At Impact Teen Drivers we know our materials and programs work because they are evidence-based; we test them and update them, and then test them some more. We test and update constantly because we know teens are a moving target, and are dedicated to serving communities with the most effective traffic safety material possible. 

Our organization’s priority is to be effective in empowering teens to make good driving decisions, and also have systems in place to ensure sustainability in spreading the message. Our framework is such that our programs can be easily used and adapted by anyone who so desires. We facilitate direct outreach, but we also offer trainings to empower educators, law enforcement, health professionals, concerned community members and the like, to deliver our programs in their communities. Even people who have not experienced an Impact Teen Drivers’ training may visit our website to get all the information and resources necessary to use our programs.

The core presentation of our teen campaign is entitled, What Do You Consider Lethal? This hour-long presentation can be given to teens in a wide range of settings, in classrooms, theatres, gyms, etc. during school hours or after school hours. It is broken into 10 steps, with an accompanying guide delineating the objective and format of each step. One may choose to incorporate specific steps into his/her existing traffic safety messaging efforts or use the 10 Step in its entirety.

Check out our 10 Step Guide here: http://www.impactteendrivers.org/resources/lesson-plans/presentation-out...

Also, if you are interested in hosting an Impact Teen Drivers Education Outreach Coordinator in your community, email info@impactteendrivers.org today to get something scheduled. If you are interested in sponsoring one of our programs or making an end-of-year donation—100% of which will go to educational programming, please make a donation online or contact us directly.  

Aggressive Driving IS Rude & Reckless.

You wouldn’t shove people out of your way when you were grocery shopping, would you? You wouldn’t cut them in line, or physically intimidate them into moving out of your way. While everyone is walking the aisles of the store, you don’t sprint, weaving around bins of fruit at full tilt and darting in between fellow shoppers. If you wouldn’t do it at the grocery store, why would you do it when you drive—when you have the power to kill someone?

Aggressive driving, as defined by the National Safety Council (NSC) includes such behaviors as “speeding, frequent and unnecessary lane changes, tailgating, and running red or yellow lights.”  One factor that the NSC sites as increasing aggressive driving is that, “On the road, the focus often is on individual rights and freedom, not on responsibility to other drivers we share the road with.” In other words, when we choose to drive aggressively, we forget or ignore that our driving affects other people, that when we are competitive behind the wheel of a car, we are gambling with other peoples’ lives (as well as our own).

Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens in the United States, and the majority are 100% preventable. Seventy five percent of the fatal teen crashes do not involve drugs or alcohol. Rather, they involve a lethal cocktail of inexperience mixed with poor decision-making. Many of these poor decisions mirror those made by adults: the businessman zipping between freeway lanes in his shiny sports car, or the soccer mom barreling along a residential street in her SUV. We witness aggressive driving altogether too much, and it makes the road dangerous for everyone on it AND sets a treacherous precedent for future drivers. Today, over one-third of teen fatal crashes involve excessive speed.

As adults, how can we rationalize aggressive driving when we know teens are taking their cues from us, that we are perpetuating an unsafe driving climate? When we remind ourselves that it is truly other people with whom we share the road, why would we speed, tailgate, or choose to do anything that puts our fellow human in danger? When we take the time to consider that each car on the road not only represents a driver and passengers, but entire communities—possibly our mother/father/little brother/sister/grandparent--how can we justify continuing to drive recklessly? We cannot. Commit to safer driving today and help save lives. Being a good person starts with being a good driver.



New Jersey and the GDL Decal

Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL, http://impactteendrivers.org/blog/get-down-law) has proven effective in reducing teen car crashes across the United States by up to 50% (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). GDL is comprised of various components or provisions, all of which serve the purpose of saving lives. The more we evolve our GDL and strengthen these provisions, the more lives we will save.

In May 2010, New Jersey became the first state to take the innovative step of requiring 16-20 year old drivers to post a reflective decal on the front and back license plates of their vehicles while they are in the learner’s permit/intermediate phases of the Graduated Drivers Licensing. The decal facilitates police enforcement of GDL restrictions and encourages young drivers to make good decisions in accordance with the law. New research has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that supports its effectiveness in reducing teen crashes.

A study conducted by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)shows a sustained two-year decline in crash rates among intermediate drivers. CHOP researchers found that in the first two years after the new decal requirement took place, the overall crash rate for young intermediate drivers declined 9.5 percent compared to the previous four years. The rate of single-vehicle crashes involving 18-year olds decreased 13 percent per year and nearly 17 percent for 19-year-olds.

"Decal provisions now have the support of science. The provision may encourage safer driving behaviors, both among teens and other drivers sharing the road with them," says lead author Allison Curry, PhD, MPH, director of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP.  "There is definitely more we need to learn, in particular with respect to the specific mechanisms by which the decals reduced crashes. The end result, however, is that many fewer teens crashed."


 At Impact Teen Drivers, we believe that the union between education and enforcement is essential in achieving our goal of stopping the number one killer of teens in America. Together, we can help prevent these teen crashes by continuing to follow, enforce, educate about and support GDL.

Parents, remember you need to be at the forefront of your teen’s driving experience, enforcing GDL and always role modeling good behavior. Check out our library of “GDL Made Simple Videos,” that explain different states’ GDL in a straightforward and engaging manner: http://impactteendrivers.org/resources/videos/gdl 

Father brings safe-driving message to students at school of daughter killed in crash

William Havens had every reason not to listen to the guest speakers at his high school yesterday.

A teacher repeatedly shushed the students sitting behind him because they were too busy talking to pay attention.

Another boy a couple of seats away kept nodding off, and a nearby school employee scrolled through Facebook on her cellphone even as the grim statistics about distracted driving and teenager deaths flashed behind the stage.

Yet Havens stayed focused. Along with the other 670 students at Eastland Career Center in Groveport, he sat through the National Teen Driver Safety Week assembly. He sat through the stories about how you shouldn’t eat while driving, how you shouldn’t text while driving, how you shouldn’t goof around in a car with your friends.

But when the lights dimmed and a photo of Sydnee Williams popped up on a giant screen, stuff got real.

Havens, a senior who doesn’t yet have his driver’s license, leaned forward and rested on the back of the chair in front of him. He hadn’t known Williams personally, but he had heard of her. She was a student at Eastland when she died a year ago this week.

Williams, 17, glanced at her phone to read an incoming text and her Honda Civic veered off Rt. 161 in Licking County and rolled. She wasn’t wearing her seat belt and was thrown from the car. Another friend in the back, not buckled in properly, has permanent, serious medical problems now. The front-seat passenger was belted in; he walked away physically unharmed.

Their story had an impact yesterday.

“It changed me,” said Havens, who said when he’s riding in a car he tries to hold the driver’s phone and check it for texts if necessary. He said now he always will wear his seat belt. “I won’t forget today.”

In 2012 in Ohio, 155 teenagers died in crashes involving teen drivers — enough to fill three school buses. Two-thirds of those who died were passengers. Authorities continually point to distracted driving as a cause.

Last week, with the help of Williams’ family, a bill was introduced in the Ohio House that would make texting and driving a primary offense for anyone — meaning police could pull over and cite drivers for only that. Currently, it’s a primary offense only for teenage drivers.

The school assembly yesterday was sponsored by Impact Teen Drivers, a national advocacy group that works to prevent teens from dying in crashes.

Heidi Deane, the organization’s educational-outreach coordinator, told the students to take personal responsibility for their behavior but also to speak up if someone else’s dangerous driving scares them.

“You guys have been strapped into car seats like you’re going to the moon since you were babies. You know to wear your seat belt,” Deane told them. “But you get caught up in the emotion of the moment. You get caught up in the fun and you get distracted. And then you don’t. And what happened to Sydnee can happen to anyone.”

Williams’ family and friends were in the audience, and her father begged the students to listen to the message.

“She didn’t have to die,” Brock Dietrich said. “Do the right thing. Make the right choices. I want you to think of Sydnee when you get in a car.”

After the assembly was over, Nickolas Francis didn’t even try to hide his tears. A senior now, Francis and Williams had been friends since second grade.

Since she died, he’s tried to change his behavior. He wears his seat belt all the time, even if going a short distance. He said he slips up sometimes but, for the most part, keeps his phone out of reach.

It’s been a year and the loss of his friend is still just as painful as it was the day she died. He said he doesn’t know how to get other people to understand that distracted driving really does kill, that it can happen to anyone, that the damage the deaths leave behind for others isn’t reversible.

He, too, had some kids sitting behind him who weren’t paying much attention yesterday. That made him angry.

“I wanted to turn around and tell them to stop. I wanted to tell them to listen,” he said. “It’s their loss — for real, I guess — if they never learn.”



The Columbus Dispatch 

You are the Solution to Reckless and Distracted Driving

National Teen Safe Driving Week is upon us, and we have a full schedule of dynamic press events planned, but what can you do to help fight against unsafe driving?  

Car crashes, not “accidents,” are the leading cause of death for teens in America. As an organization, Impact Teen Drivers makes the conscious choice not to use the word, “accident,” because it implies inevitability. Car crashes are not inevitable; they involve decisions made by drivers and passengers. As individuals, we all have the power to unite against this public health epidemic and prevent more tragedies from occurring.

It is absolutely vital to make the resolution never to drink and drive, but seventy-five percent of teen crash fatalities do not involve drugs and alcohol, so we have to consider the many other decisions that can also be lethal in the context of a car. Consider everything that distracts you behind the wheel—your passengers, your radio, your breakfast, your phone…and pledge to stop trying to multitask. First and foremost, make the conscious commitment to safe driving by avoiding everything that distracts you. Just focus on driving.

Secondly, speak up as a passenger. Being seen as uncool, bossy, or unpleasant is NOT the worst-case scenario. A moment of tension will NEVER be the worst-case scenario. Don’t just speak up when you are the passenger either—take it a step further and proactively initiate discussion with the people in your life. Whether they are your peers, elders, juniors, etc., everyone can benefit from being reminded to drive safely. Having these conversations will remind you to put your money where your mouth is and always role model good driving habits. Parents, remember you are the number one influencer of your teen’s driving attitude and behavior.

In addition to these simple yet life-saving strategies to fight against the number one killer, there are abundant resources to help you make an even bigger mark. We offer a peer-to-peer messaging contest, “Create Real Impact,” twice a year, which allows for students (ages 14-22) to promote their solutions to reckless and distracted driving via original creative works. Visit www.createrealimpact.com for all the details.

 Consider bringing an evidence-based program to your community. Browse through the “What We Do” sidebar of our homepage (www.impactteendrivers.org) and email info@impactteendrivers.org to get more information or schedule a program. If you are based in California, our Education Outreach Coordinators will come into your community for free to work with you directly, giving presentations and facilitating trainings.

Most importantly, every time you get in a car, buckle up, speak up, and just drive safe. You are the solution. 

Please Be Safe. Make the Right Call

Robert Bailey was 21 years old when he lost his life in a preventable car crash. His parents had always talked to him about safe driving, things like wearing his seat belt and never texting behind the wheel or drinking and driving.

Years before his crash, his cousin had been in a car collision and suffered serious injuries, so the family was well aware of the consequences of driving error. When Robert’s family received the call that no parent wants to hear, the hysterical voice on the other line conveyed there had been a crash and Robert’s injuries were serious. It was a mother of one of the other passengers, and she wept that he was bleeding from the mouth. Rhonda Bailey, Robert’s mother, remembers thinking, “Okay, we can handle this. We will nurse him back to health. Our family has done this before.”

What she was not prepared for was the information she received at the hospital that night. Robert had not survived the crash. He and two other friends were coming home from California’s Six Flags Magic Mountain, where they had spent a gleeful day on rides and exploring the park. By day’s end, the three friends found themselves exhausted and a minor dispute arose over who would drive. The call that the Baileys would have given anything to receive instead of the one they did would have gone something like this, “Mom, my friends and I are all tired, so instead of one of us driving drowsy, we are going to find a safe place to park the car and nap for an hour or so before hitting the road.” The group made the deadly decision to press on, and Robert made the deadly decision to lay down in the backseat without buckling his seatbelt. The driver drifted to sleep behind the wheel; the car went off the road and upside down into a building; Robert died instantly. The last text that Rhonda had sent her son read: “Please be safe.”

The Impact Teen Driver team spent time with this amazing family, looking at photos and mementos, essays Robert had written, and filming their powerful story. Like so many families, the Bailey family has chosen to share their story because they cannot bear the thought of any more families having to experience the immeasurable pain of losing a young person in a preventable car crash. They have chosen to share their story because they want to save lives.

Stay posted for Robert’s Story, and always drive safely. Drive alert and undistracted and buckle up 100% of the time. 

Taking a Comprehensive Approach to Changing Culture

At Impact Teen Drivers, we use the term, “multifaceted approach” and “comprehensive approach.” What do we mean by that? As an organization, we are constantly adapting and evolving to meet the demands of ever-changing world. The fact that culture is fluid is our organization’s defining ideology; we believe we can change the culture of driving to one that is distraction-free.  In order to do that, we have to understand and work within the existing system, and specifically, address each unique target group in the way that is most effective to them.            

Not only do we have multiple workshops that cater to the various requests of our groups  (What Do You Consider Lethal? Classroom Presentations, Assemblies, Parent-Teen Workshops, Lead the Leaders, Train the Trainers), but we also develop material for culturally and linguistically distinct sectors of people. 

We are making a concerted effort to facilitate more outreach to Spanish-speaking communities, and have developed, and continue to develop, resources in Spanish.

We currently offer the personal story of a young man who lost his life in a preventable car crash, told in Spanish: http://impactteendrivers.org/resources/videos/personal-story/michael-alvarado We also have brochures about Impact Teen Drivers and the issue of reckless and distracted driving available in Spanish, as well as a video about Graduated Driver Licensing:


We offer our classroom video with Hmong subtitles and have a multitude of videos with closed captioning to ensure we reach the deaf community with traffic safety messaging. 


Impact’s goal is to best serve law enforcement, first responders, health professionals, teachers, student leaders, parents, and all the people working tirelessly to improve their communities and keep their children safe. Because of this, we really listen to your feedback, and try to accommodate your needs.  Please email info@impactteendrivers.org with how we can assist your community in promoting teen safe driving!

On Duty with the CHP: Free teen driver program available

Click here to read original article

Traffic collisions are the leading killer of teenagers in America. Nationally, approximately 5,000 teenagers die in automobile collisions, with 10% of those deaths taking place in California. Those are some ugly facts.

Statistics can be dry, boring and hard to understand, but the statistics above are reality.

One of the CHP's goals is to minimize the loss of life, personal injury and property damage resulting from traffic collisions through enforcement, education and engineering.

In my last column, I talked about Start Smart, an interactive class designed to train new drivers and their parents/instructors. In this article, I want to talk about the Impact Teen Drivers program.

The idea for ITD was conceived by Jon Hamm, CEO for the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, in response to the high number of collisions involving teens.

ITD provides awareness and education to teenagers, their parents and community members about all facets of responsible driving. Additionally, the program seeks to reduce the number of injuries and deaths suffered by teen drivers as a result of distracted driving and poor decision making.

This program has become a huge success, expanding by leaps and bounds around the nation. Why is it so successful? The ITD format addresses the problem of teenage distracted and reckless driving on an emotional level.

In contrast to old teaching methods like long lectures or scolding teens regarding bad habits, ITD uses teen instructors, teen stories and teen leaders to address the problem from their perspective.

The program starts with an assembly. For example, at Edison High School we conducted 11 presentations with approximately 100 students per class. In addition, Edison High has a "Distracted Driving Club," where students actively work to identify and warn their peers about driving hazards.

Last year Edison High had a total of 12 teens in the club. At this year's club sign-up day, Edison student leaders signed up 69 new students that either saw our presentations last year or heard about them and want to get involved. I am so proud of those young leaders at Edison for signing up, standing up and making a difference.

As another example, we conducted an Impact Teen Drivers assembly for San Joaquin Memorial High School's entire student body. San Joaquin Memorial students and faculty appreciated the proactive approach of the Impact Teen Drivers program.

As the CHP's community outreach officer for the central San Joaquin Valley, I strive to get programs like Impact Teen Drivers out and available to the public.

If you think this program is interesting, and you want to learn more, email me. If you a have a group of teens, including church youth groups, Scouts or sports teams that would benefit from this training, email me. If you would like to establish a club at your local high school, have the CHP conduct an assembly, or both, email me.

The CHP's mission is to provide the highest level of safety, service and security to the people of California. Programs like Start Smart and Impact Teen Drivers are at the heart of the CHP's mission. Find a venue, give us a call and we will set up an appointment to bring Impact Teen Drivers to your group.

David Singer, dsinger@chp.ca.gov.