Teens from West Kentucky high schools were among the twenty-one students from seventeen different schools throughout the state graduating from the KSP ‘Drive to Stay Alive’ (DTSA) academy. The program ran from October 13 – 17, 2010 and was held at the KSP Training Academy in Frankfort.
The ‘Drive to Stay Alive’ program teaches the students safe driving techniques by KSP instructors with hands-on road driving and classroom exercises, including the dangers of driving impaired, seat belt safety, distracted and aggressive driving.
Students graduating from the class include: Julia Back, Menifee Co. High; Branika Hardin, Fulton Co. High; Miranda Hamilton, Knox Central High; Zach Overstreet, Bullitt East High; Zachary Roberts, Bath Co. High; Benjamin Hammins, Barbourville High; Kyle Ridgeway, Bullitt East High; Justin Porter, Ohio Co. High; Robin Pittman, Hopkinsville High; Colton Gardner, Franklin Co. High; Aaron Woodward, Anderson Co. High; Tyler Bishop, Bullitt Central High; James Isaac, Knott Co. High; Bailey Green, Daviess Co. High; Haley Elliott, Mercer Co. High; Russell McConville Jr., East Jessamine High; Britt Whitaker, Knott Co. High; Brittany Moore, East Jessamine High; Travis Fisher, Eminence High; Matt Spicer, Western hills High; and Brian Bays, Knox Central High. (Students listed from left to right as pictured in photograph*).
Highway Safety Branch Commander Lt. David Jude explained that the ‘Drive to Stay Alive’ program was designed not only to decrease teen crashes but to provide students with the tools to be advocates in their own communities.
“The training includes topics such as collision causation, vehicle dynamics and skid control, backing skills, multiple turns and lane interchange, safety belts and air bags, evasive maneuvers, off-road recovery, and controlled braking,” advises Jude.
“We focus heavily on distracted and inattentive driving which is prevalent in this particular age group,” says Jude.
According to Jude, the real potential of the “Drive To Stay Alive” program begins after the students return to their schools.
“The students are teamed with an experienced state trooper to spread the message to the student body in each school and to their community as well,” he says. “The effectiveness of the program is based on the concept that a message conveyed by a fellow student carries more weight with other students and is therefore more memorable.”
The DTSA students are evaluated and scored on the safe driving programs they present in their respective schools and communities. The students with the most effective programs, resulting in increased seat belt usage, are eligible for scholarship funds. Their schools will be rewarded as well.
The DTSA program is funded through at grant from State Farm Insurance Company. Lisa Ripley, representative for State Farm Insurance said that October remains one of the highest collision months for teen drivers.
“While promoting teen driver safety requires a year-round commitment, the fall time frame is critically important,” says Ripley. As teens return to school, attend homecoming and begin managing very busy schedules, State Farm wants them to keep safe driving practices at the top of their minds,” adds Ripley.
Last year in Kentucky, teen drivers accounted for 23,680 collisions. Of that figure, there were 108 fatal crashes. Even more alarming, are the 2009 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges for drivers between the ages of 16-19. There were 2,603 DUI charges filed in Kentucky district court last year.
“The goal of this program is to decrease teen fatalities on Kentucky roadways,” says KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer. “Nationally, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers. Programs like “Drive To Stay Alive’ are directly impacting the Commonwealth by resulting in a decrease in teen highway deaths.”
Commissioner Brewer believes the “Drive To Stay Alive” program will have a lasting effect on these teens.
“These students have a unique opportunity to make a real difference,” says Brewer.
“They can help influence on-the-road driving behaviors and save lives on Kentucky’s roadways. It’s a very worthwhile goal that will require dedication on their part, but it’s worth it if they save even one life. It could be their own, their best friend, a neighbor or a family member.”
For more information about the “Drive To Stay Alive’ program or how your school can get involved, please contact the KSP Highway Safety Branch at (502) 782-1780.