Statewide holiday safety campaign aims to keep teens safe
The “Steer Into The New Year-Buckle Up and Drive Safely” holiday campaign kicks off this week at schools across the Commonwealth with a goal to keep teen drivers and passengers safe during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The campaign, being sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), the Virginia State Police, and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), is an effort to reduce teen fatalities during what has become a high-risk period for young drivers.
Over the past three years during the month of December, 22 teens aged 15 to 20 have died in motor vehicle crashes in the Commonwealth and 1,819 were injured, according to DMV statistics. During the same time period, young drivers aged 15-20 accounted for 6,147 crashes and 26 fatal crashes in the Commonwealth during the month of December. Many of the fatalities occurred when teens were on break for the Christmas holiday.
In an effort to get teen drivers and passengers to change behaviors and be safer this holiday season, the “Steer Into The New Year – Buckle Up and Drive Safely” campaign will focus on peer-to-peer influence. Students at participating schools will take the lead in hosting safe driving pledge banner signings, designing traffic safety floats for Christmas parades, decking the halls at their school or local youth group facility with traffic safety messaging, and making safety-themed ornaments for a holiday tree in the building’s main lobby. Messaging will also be shared with parents of teens to encourage them to monitor their teen’s driving and discuss rules for the holidays.
“The holidays are a high-risk period for teens, with crashes and fatalities becoming more prevalent after schools release for the holidays,” said Mary King, YOVASO Program Manager. “We need to begin now and continuously remind teens throughout December to drive safely and to make safe and responsible choices as both a driver and a passenger.” King emphasized the goal is “for every teen to arrive safely back at school in January 2020.”
Important Tips for Holiday Driving
- Always Buckle Up
- Slow Down and Obey Speed Limits
- Avoid Distractions, including putting away phones and all electronics
- Limit Teen Passengers
- Celebrate Responsibly without Drugs and/or Alcohol
Virginia high schools, middle schools, and youth groups are encouraged to participate in the campaign and can do so by registering at yovaso.org . Schools and youth groups that register will receive the campaign kit which includes: activity ideas, teen driving facts and statistics, winter driving tip cards, safe driving pledge banners, mini tire gauge key chains (high schools) and pencils (middle schools), and other resources to promote safe driving. Resources to support the campaign were sponsored by State Farm.
To learn more about the Holiday Safety Campaign, call Mary King, YOVASO Program Manager at 804-461-0396. Schools and youth groups may register at anytime throughout the holidays to receive campaign materials.
YOVASO is Virginia’s peer-to-peer education and prevention program for teen driver and passenger safety. Through YOVASO, teens work to advocate for safer driving among their peers and to develop positive prevention strategies for their schools and communities. The program, which currently has 112 active member schools and youth groups, is administered by the Virginia State Police and funded through grants from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Membership in YOVASO is free and open to all Virginia high schools, middle schools, and youth groups.