Sixteen teens in the United States die each day in car crashes. And after participating in a safe-driving summit on Monday, a group of Scottsdale students will try to share that information with their friends to avoid becoming statistics.
About 60 high school students from across the Scottsdale Unified School District gathered at Scottsdale Stadium for Keep the Drive, a year-old program designed to encourage teens’ knowledge of safe driving. Monday’s summit was the first in Arizona.
The program came to Scottsdale through a $20,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation, a community program from Allstate Insurance Co., to Health World of Scottsdale, said Shelley Beeler, Allstate Foundation representative for Arizona.
In addition to providing curriculum for the day, Allstate will give $1,000 each to Scottsdale’s five high schools so students can create campaigns to encourage safe driving, Beeler said.
Students will have until January to decide how to spend that $1,000, but some came to the event with ideas. Saguaro High School senior Josh Montgomery said he has wanted to start a free cab service at his school that would offer rides to students finding themselves in dangerous situations — whether a designated driver has decided to drink or six friends try to squeeze into a car with five seat belts. “I’ve seen too many kids get caught in an unsafe situation,” Montgomery said. “I just want a Plan B for everyone at my school.”
Keep the Drive is designed to get students talking to one another about safe driving, Beeler said. “There’s only so much we can do to say, ‘Buckle up,’” Beeler said.
Sessions included a comedian who presented crash statistics and driving tips, students who role-played what they had learned and opportunities for participants to enter a video booth and say anything they wanted to about driving.
But while students laughed through many of the presentations, the seriousness of the subject wasn’t lost.
Sixteen of the participants were from Desert Mountain High School, which is still mourning the death of student Shelly Cohen in a car crash on Loop 101 over Thanksgiving weekend. Cohen wasn’t wearing a seat belt at the time, said Ann Achtziger, service learning department chairwoman for the district.
Desert Mountain junior Belle Worthley said she had a friend who was in a similar crash — he was driving 80 mph on Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard when his car flipped.
“That’s the exact same thing that happened with Shelly. But he was wearing a seat belt, so he walked away without a scratch,” Worthley said.