#TisTheSeasonToStayAlive campaign: Keep teens safe during holiday season

yovasoThe “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 (YOVASO) and the Virginia State Police, 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 1,964 were injured, according to statistics from the Virginia DMV Highway Safety Office. During the same time period, young drivers aged 15-20 accounted for 5,296 crashes and 28 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 posting pictures enjoying the holidays on their social media accounts with safe celebration/safe driving messages and encourage their classmates, friends and loved ones to do the same. Everyone who posts should use #TisTheSeasonToStayAlive to remind everyone to enjoy the holidays safely and responsibly. Students will also design traffic safety floats for Christmas parades, deck the halls at their school or local youth group facility with traffic safety messaging, and make 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 majority of teen fatalities last December occurred after schools released for the holidays,” said Casey Taylor, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator, “so we need to begin now and continuously remind teens throughout the holidays to drive safely and to make safe and responsible choices as both a driver and a passenger.” Taylor emphasized that the goal of this year’s campaign is “for every teen to arrive safely back at school in January 2019.”

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, imprinted 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.

“During the holidays there are additional distractions with shoppers, pedestrians, traffic and bad weather,” says Kate Beadle, spokesperson for State Farm. “This calls for extra focus and attention by all drivers.”

 To learn more about the Holiday Safety Campaign, call Casey Taylor, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator at 540-375-3596. 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 106 active member schools and youth groups, is administered by the Virginia State Police and funded through grants from the Virginia DMV Highway Safety Office. Membership in YOVASO is free and open to all Virginia high schools, middle schools, and youth groups.

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