The Department of Motor Vehicles
Glastonbury Education Foundation
Connecticut Children's Medical Center/Hartford
Hosptial Injury Prevention Center
The Department of Transportation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2014
State and Glastonbury Officials, Injury Prevention Advocates, High School Student Advocate Announce
New Collaboration on Teen Safe Driving
Innovative Pilot Project to be Launched Communitywide
GLASTONBURY -- A special collaboration of teenagers, parents, injury prevention specialists, state officials and Glastonbury town leaders are announcing a new pilot project – possibly for use in other towns in Connecticut -- to spur communitywide involvement in promoting the state's teen safe driving laws.
The project, called "Be the Key," aims to launch a communitywide effort to foster more safe driving awareness. The program is the idea of Glastonbury High School junior Audrey Apanovitch. It aims to use a number of community organizing efforts and public forums to spur discussion and action among teens, parents and community members to promote teens’ driving safely, passenger safety and avoiding distracted driving.
“Motor vehicle crashes due to a lack of safety and distracted driving is the number one cause of death for young people aged 15- to 19-years old, but this doesn’t have to be the case,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “This pilot project, ‘Be the Key’, is a true community effort – students, parents, teachers and local and state partners all working together to raise awareness about the dangerous and oftentimes fatal repercussions of distracted driving, especially among teens just learning how to drive. We all have a responsibility to spread this message in order to prevent needless tragedies from occurring and make our roads safer for all drivers.”
Stewart “Chip” Beckett, chairman of the Glastonbury Town Council, said, “I think our sense of community demands that we all take seriously the risks of driving, and work hard to educate and remind people how to make every one of those trips as safe as possible. The tragedy of youth death and injury affects the whole community and our goal should be to eliminate those deaths and injuries that unfortunately happen all too regularly across our state.”
“Be The Key” is designed to gather support for safe teen and adult driving across the entire community. The project aims to engage community members as role models to help promote a safe driving culture throughout Glastonbury, not just to focus only on teen drivers and their parents.
By displaying a key car magnet on their vehicles, Glastonbury drivers can commit to following state driving laws and rules of the road whether adults or teens. In addition, pre-teen drivers will be part of the program, signing the pledge to be safe passengers as an effort to instill a safe driving culture well before their first driving lesson.
"I am undertaking this project because I want to make a positive impact on my community by educating not only my peers, but their parents as well, regarding the importance of following Connecticut's Graduated Driving Laws for teen drivers. I hope this project results in Glastonbury coming together and supporting the safety of our teen drivers," said Apanovitch, who turns 17 in March.
Partnering with Apanovitch is the Glastonbury Education Foundation, Connecticut Children's Injury Prevention Center, the state Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor's Highway Safety Office at the state Department of Transportation. Apanovitch's supporters also include Beckett, Glastonbury Town Manager Richard Johnson, Schools Superintendent Alan Bookman and Board of Education Chairman Susan Karp.
"We think this is a wonderful community involvement project and we are eager to help make it successful. It takes a whole community to make our youngest and most inexperienced drivers become safe drivers," said DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey.
Funding for the program comes through the Glastonbury Education Foundation with supplemental support from Connecticut Children's and the DMV through part of a passenger safety grant from State Farm insurance company.
Joseph Williams, chairman of the Glastonbury Education Foundation, said, "The Glastonbury Education Foundation decided to fund the “Be the Key” campaign because we are committed to its goal of zero teen driving fatalities, and we believe that education and an ongoing community conversation are important ways to help protect the safety of our teen drivers and passengers every day. Our Foundation was inspired by the request of one of our own high school students for assistance in spreading this vital message, and we are proud to partner in this effort.”
In detail, the project has the following components:
- Form a coalition comprised of parents, teens, Glastonbury Police Department, Glastonbury High School Principal, Glastonbury Town Council, Glastonbury Town Manager, Town of Glastonbury Driving Schools, Superintendent of Schools, and Chairman of Board of Education, local businesses to promote program and its activities.
- Buy magnets and bracelets and pledge cards and develop distribution plan ( high school events, driving schools, police department, supermarkets, community events, classroom, sports practices, Safe Rides).
- Develop Million-Mile Pledge form and design car magnets and bracelets for community members to display.
- Develop Communication/Education Plan including:
- DMV Teen Safe Driving Video contest submission for public service announcement sponsored by Safe Rides.
- Student Comedy Production “Drive it Home” performed at Community Center and again for 500 GHS seniors. Will be used as a forum to for “Be the Key.” Pledges, magnets and bracelets will be distributed.
- Sponsored presentation to 8th graders at Smith Middle School about passenger graduated driver licensing laws.
- “Be The Key” briefed at new teen driver parent classes at Glastonbury Driving Schools.
- Posters, flyers, handouts, e-mails, public service announcements, social media, newspaper editorials/letters to the editor.
- Develop GDL attitude and knowledge survey and survey plan.
- Work with DMV through its State Farm Grant to raise awareness that passenger safety is as important as driver safety since all are in the vehicle.
- Billboard (yet to be designed) for 2 months April-June range, New London Turnpike area.
- Count cars displaying magnets in GHS parking lot and cars displaying magnets driving down Main Street in Glastonbury monthly for measuring campaign and outreach effectiveness.
- Count teens with bracelets at high school events monthly for measuring campaign and outreach effectiveness.
- Perform periodic evaluations that could lead to planning to launch program in other communities in Connecticut.
- Perform a post implementation survey and write report.
“We are extremely proud to announce the Department of Transportation’s support of the “Be the Key” project,” said James P. Redeker, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “Every single driver has a role in keeping our roads as safe as possible. We all know that driving impaired, distracted or unbuckled are all dangerous, but it doesn’t stop everyone from doing it. This effort is intended to educate teens and their communities about the potential consequences of this behavior. We hope that by bringing this message to young drivers and their families that they will change their driving habits to help protect themselves, their families and others on the road.”
Susan Karp, chairman of the Glastonbury Board of Education, said, “I encourage all members of our community to learn more about the "Be the Key" program and how we can work together to keep our teens and our roads safe while recognizing the importance of excellent communication, oversight and support. I extend my thanks to everyone involved in bringing this important initiative to our town."
Garry Lapidus, director of Connecticut Children’s/Hartford Hospital Injury Prevention Center, pointed to the emphasis on community involvement.
"This communitywide campaign will promote awareness and adoption of CT's graduated driver licensing system, a proven effective program that will reduce teen motor vehicle crashes and injuries," he said.
At the announcement, Lapidus and Tim Hollister, a parent whose 17 year old son died in a car crash in 2006 and who recently published Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving (Chicago Review Press), spoke about teen driving from the public health and safety perspective, and practical tips from Hollister’s book and blog for proactive and informed parenting of teen drivers.
Glastonbury Town Manager Richard Johnson said, "My thanks go to the Glastonbury Education Foundation and all those involved in sponsoring the Teen Safe Driving-“Be the Key” program in Glastonbury. The program will provide invaluable lessons to parents, young drivers and others to help prevent and minimize motor vehicle accidents involving young people. Tim Hollister and Garry Lapidus will offer real life insight to this most important topic. I look forward to attending.”