Recently, two private high schools in the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, experienced tragedy in the deaths of two academic standouts and athletic superstars.
Each young man died behind the wheel of a vehicle. Neither was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They were traveling during the day and it was dry with clear conditions. These were good kids doing good things and starting out with bright lives.
They both died in preventable, single-vehicle crashes as a result of distracted driving.
The news traveled quickly throughout the communities. Friends and families of the students felt the profound loss and wanted to do something. The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) of Lower Merion – a consortium of students from various public and private schools in the suburb – decided to take action.
Peter Dissinger, a high school senior in Lower Merion and the group’s student leader, reached out to the nonprofit group End Distracted Driving (EndDD) and to StreetSafe Driving Academy. EndDD works with young people throughout the country to promote driving safety through advocacy and education, while StreetSafe teaches driving safety. Local police officers also joined the effort.
Two powerful ideas began to take shape. First, the YAC created a YouTube™ video entitled “Distracted Driving: Where do you Draw the Line?” The video showed how easy it was for young people to engage in distracted driving, and its consequences.
“The video depicts a day in the life of the average distracted teen in her car, and was written, filmed, acted, and edited entirely by students,” said StreetSafe’s Mike Nussbaum. “It has been received with immensely positive feedback and is going to be used by many local organizations that educate teenagers on driving safely, including StreetSafe.”
The YAC’s second initiative took place in April, when the group and its dedicated sponsors created and hosted “Put the Brakes on Distracted Driving” – an awareness event at a local outdoor mall. StreetSafe and Subaru of America, Inc. provided a Subaru Legacy with a driver simulator computer so that passers-by could experience distracted driving without the consequences.
“The presence of companies like StreetSafe and Subaru, who are both dedicated to preventing distracted driving, was a huge benefit in attracting people to our booth,” Dissinger said.
The YAC continues to campaign for safer driving. Through its video and the power of social media, the group hopes to reach a wider audience and get drivers to think twice before diverting attention from the road.