HARRISBURG – Motorists statewide will soon hear important safety messages from high school students as PennDOT released the winning entries of its second annual “Drive Safe PA” radio public service announcement contest, held in conjunction with National Youth Traffic Safety Month.
The 11 winning entries, one in each PennDOT engineering district, focused on unsafe driving behaviors such as distracted driving, not buckling up, and impaired and aggressive driving. Contest winners were notified in April and recently traveled to Harrisburg to have their PSAs professionally recorded. The winning entries can be heard on PennDOT’s highway safety Web site.
“Through this contest, students are sending clear messages to all motorists about taking personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of others,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. “While these messages offer sound advice for motorists of all ages to follow, they help to underscore the extra risks that young, novice drivers face when they don’t practice safe driving behaviors.”
Several of the winning PSAs focused on distracted driving and specifically on talking on a cell phone or texting while behind the wheel. Although there are many different driver distractions, such as eating, tuning the radio and interacting with passengers, cell phones distract the driver in three different ways: visually, taking their eyes off the road; manually, taking their hands off the wheel; and cognitively, taking mental focus away from the task of driving.
Over the past five years in Pennsylvania, there have been nearly 122,000 crashes involving 16- to 19-year-old drivers that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths. Although more than one factor may contribute to a crash, statistics show that driver distractions are major contributing factors. Driver distractions contributed to nearly 10 percent of crashes involving 16- to 19-year-old drivers in the past five years.
“Young drivers simply lack the experience to fully grasp the complexities of safe driving,” Biehler said. “It takes practice to recognize and react to challenging conditions on the roadways, and distractions only compound the inexperience factor and increase the risk of a crash.”
With the important safety messages of the PSAs in mind, PennDOT offers the following safety tips to young drivers:
* Always wear your seat belt.
* Do not drink and drive; all drinking under the age of 21 is illegal.
* Avoid all driver distractions.
* Obey the speed limit; driving too fast gives you less time to react.
* Plan ahead; know where you are going and get directions.
* Leave early and give yourself plenty of time to get there.
* Expect the unexpected.
PennDOT also reminds parents and guardians that adult supervision is a critical component of keeping young drivers safe, as they have the ability to best assess the young driver’s knowledge, skills and maturity. While this is a focus when the young driver has a learner’s permit, this responsibility continues even after he/she becomes licensed. Parents and guardians should:
* Set a good example by avoiding unsafe driving behaviors.
* Start talking with your teen about safe driving skills before they turn 16.
* Establish a parent/teen driving contract.
* Encourage your young driver to avoid distractions behind the wheel.
* Limit the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle of your young driver.
* Do not allow your teen to talk or text on a cell phone while driving.
* Limit dawn, dusk and nighttime driving until the young driver gathers more
* Enforce a curfew.
* Gradually increase the amount of time and distance your teen is allowed to drive.
* Enforce observance of speed limits and other rules of the road.
* Ride with your young driver occasionally to monitor driving skills.
Additional safety tips and resources are available by selecting the Young Driver link under the “Traffic Safety Information Center” at http://www.DriveSafePA.org/.
Editor’s Note: Following is a list of Drive Safe PA contest winners. (There is no District 7).
District 1 (Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango and Warren counties): Joe Ligo – Mercer High School, Mercer County.
District 2 (Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, McKean and Potter counties): Robert Jones and Brandon Savage – DuBois Area High School, Clearfield County.
District 3 (Bradford, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga and Union counties): Brittany Colton and Erica Route – Canton Junior/Senior High School, Bradford County.
District 4 (Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties): Sean Bromiley, Erhan Isliam and Ka Chun Kevin Wong – Hazleton Area High School, Luzerne County.
District 5 (Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton and Schuylkill counties): Ronnie Zeiber, Aaron Meehan and Jackson Kitchell – Berks Career and Technology Center, Berks County.
District 6 (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties):
Michelle Stapleton – Sun Valley High School, Delaware County.
District 8 (Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties): Carl Minieri – Manheim Central High School, Lancaster County.
District 9 (Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties): Joshua Beistel, Tyler Bonadio, Hank Steinmiller and DJ Clementi – Somerset Area High School, Somerset County.
District 10 (Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson counties): Natalie Yanoff – Ford City High School, Armstrong County.
District 11 (Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties): John Gordon, Elaine Carey, Regina Suchin, Nick Marchese and Emily Donaldson – North Hills Senior High,
District 12 (Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties): Amber Hricko – Belle Vernon Area High School, Fayette County.