A group composed mostly of ninth grade Carroll County High School students on Oct. 7 participated in a “prep” rally of sorts. Donning red shirts emblazoned with a “Celebrate My Drive” logo, the group hit their marks and were taped chanting, yelling and cheering.
The effort is part of a State Farm Insurance-sponsored contest titled, “Drive 2N2,” which reminds teen motorists to drive “with two eyes on the road and two hands on the wheel.” Mass Media/Public Speaking teacher Courtenay Houston said first prize for a winning video is a $100,000 grant. Twenty-two percent of this amount ($22,000) would go to support the school’s driver’s education program with the remainder spent at the discretion of the school.
Houston said 11 large high schools (751 students or more, grades 9-12 combined) receiving the most votes will win a $100,000 grant, while 11 small high schools (750 students or less, grades 9-12 combined) receiving the most votes get a similar grant.
According to information supplied by State Farm at www.celebratemydrive.com, teens usually have better reaction times than adults yet crash at least four times as often as other drivers. Research indicates one reason for this is teens haven’t learned what to look for while driving. Safe driving ideally is more about awareness than reaction.
The National Young Driver Survey, conducted regularly by State Farm and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, examined teens’ attitudes on 25 risky driving situations. This report discusses several findings, including teens don’t consider themselves inexperienced drivers, and unlicensed teen drivers engage in more unsafe driving behaviors than their licensed classmates.
“Echosmith,” a California indie pop band formed in 2009, will choose a Grand Prize winner from the 22 finalists based on judging criteria, and play a private concert for the school.
Houston said they plan to submit their entry by Oct. 25 and praised the support of State Farm agent Chris Goad, who is also providing corporate support for the effort. She said the effort is also being spearheaded by technology teacher Alex Leonard, who is making sure the finished product meets contest requirements.
“I think schools today do a better job of educating kids,” said Goad. “This program has been out a few years. It has a different theme and grand prize every year. This is being proactive instead of being reactive. Saving one teenage life makes it worth it.”
Goad pointed out State Farm’s “Steer Clear” effort, a 20-minute educational program for current clients, has also been ongoing and features real life stories to make a case for more awareness.
“It’s exciting to have the support of the school and help of Houston coordinating the efforts for the video entry,” Goad said. “The enthusiasm is wonderful. We really want the community to help us if we get to the voting level. Hopefully we can bring home one of the $100,000 grants.”
“We have such an exceptional driver’s ed program at CCHS,” said Houston. “They really push safe driving. We have two driver’s education classes at the school with six instructors for behind the wheel. They really have to work hard trying to get students to be prepared as good drivers.”
She said 100 videos will be selected and winners will be decided by voting, which could begin this November. She said the public may vote once daily for their choice online through emails.
“We want everyone to please look for a follow up article on this in late October,” Houston said. “In order for us to win we simply cannot do it without community support. Our community is fantastic with how they step forward for all the schools. We had no budget for this project, so we are having to be creative. This 30-second video will be edited from seven hours of footage. It’s (no pun intended) a student-driven and inspired project.”
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on [email protected]