Chaparral students launch safe driving campaign
Partnership with CDOT, HealthONE & South Metro Fire Rescue aims to bring message to entire community
PARKER – Inspired by the death of a friend and classmate, a group of Chaparral High School marketing students have launched a campaign to ensure their school and the community understand the dangers of distracted driving.
In October 2014, Taylor Llewellyn, a Chaparral High School senior, and member of the varsity poms team, died following a head-on collision on State Highway 83 north of Franktown. Witnesses say the Llewellyn’s car drifted from its lane.
“It really hit home for us,” explained Chaparral Senior Alex Lehman.
Last school year representatives from South Metro Fire Department and Parker Adventist Hospital approached Chaparral to see if students might help with an educational campaign about driving safety. When Lehman and her friends in Chaparral’s DECA marketing class volunteered immediately when they heard about the opportunity.
“We felt like this was a project that we wanted to be involved in,” Lehman said. “We were granted money by the Colorado Department of Transportation and we were able to start from scratch and come up with our own ideas and networking and start a project that we thought would impact our school.”
Lehman, Emily Baller and Jacquelin Closs got to work gathering data about the driving habits of students in the school’s parking lot.
“We recorded who had their seat belt on, who was distracted, who had too many people in their car, who was driving too fast,” Baller said.
Their partners with HealthONE and South Metro Fire Rescue helped to turn the data into graphs, which led to a project to educate classmates about the importance of safe driving. Additionally, their partners, including the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) helped to provide additional statistics about driving safety.
The facts are startling
According statistics provided by HealthONE, traffic accidents are still the number one cause of death for young people in Colorado. The number of drivers 15-20 years old involved in a fatal crash increased by 28 percent between 2009 and 2014.
Motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death for young drivers between the ages of 15 and 20, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Young drivers between 15 and 20 lack driving experience which may result in poor decision-making and risky driving behaviors such as speeding, which directly result in motor vehicle crashes. 73 of the 684 drivers (about 11%) involved in fatal crashes in 2014 were aged 15 - 20 years old – this is a 14 percent increase from 2013.
Distracted driving is far from the only issue – studies show that having an unbuckled passenger in your vehicle increases your risk of being hurt or killed by 40 percent. Increasing seatbelt use among teen drivers while encouraging safe, non-distracted driving habits will help to save lives.
Lehman, Closs and Baller say the statistic that hit them the hardest is that 80134 zip code, which covers much of Parker, including Chaparral is ranked ninth in the state for accidents that result in hospital visits.
“We don’t want to be number nine in the state. That is our first priority to get that down,” Lehman said.
Marketing students organize Chap Drive Safe week
Last spring the girls organized a week of events at the school to bring awareness to the problem. They placed “Chap Drive Safe” magnets, green ribbons and notes encouraging students to drive carefully. South Metro Firefighters showed students the dangers of drinking and driving with drunk goggles and the staff of Parker Adventist Hospital hosted the Teens Take the Wheel event so that teens from the school could see what it is like to be admitted to the emergency room after an accident. The event was also aimed at ensuring the entire community, including parents, understand the risk of distracted driving and encouraging them to lead by example by not texting while driving.
This November they plan to do it all again.
“Our main message is that you should drive safe because people care about you. Your driving doesn’t just impact yourself, but it impacts your entire community,” Baller said.
The students’ efforts are being noticed. Recently they were invited to participate in a back-to-school press conference at Sky Ridge Medical Center, which focused specifically on the importance of wearing seat belts.
“It was surprising and almost overwhelming to see all of the people [at the press conference],” Closs said. “It was a unique experience knowing that all of these people were hear to listen to us. Usually it is the other way around, with us watching TV with adults telling us what is going on.”
The students say they are driven by the opportunity to make our community safer, but also believe the opportunity though DECA is preparing them for a career in marketing after school.
“I think there is something that is really cool about having the responsibility and the organizational skills to plan a project for a week. It is a lot more work than one might think, but it directly relates to a real job,” Lehman said. “We had to create an agenda, stick to a budget and we have to talk to adults in emails and phone calls that need to be made. We are learning direct skills that we are going to use later every single day.”
“As a student it is really cool when high school becomes something other than going to class,” Baller said. ”For us, we’ve gotten to do so many cool things – really going beyond the basic educational experience is – being able to participate in these real world opportunities really gives us an advantage going out of high school. I know that we are super thankful that we got to work with this project and learn because it goes beyond helping our schools. It is helping to prepare us for life.”
Parents, Teachers, Coaches, School Staff, Teens: What you can do to help
Encouraging all drivers and passengers to “Buckle up” at all times and to “Beware the Beltless” will HELP TO SAVE LIVES.
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death among young drivers – let’s work together to prevent these needless accidents and fatalities. Increasing seat belt use is the single most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes on Colorado roadways.
Remind the teens in your lives that they should ALWAYS wear a seatbelt and ask everyone in their car to do the same.
And Parents: Set a good example for your kids. We know that children are more likely to use seat belts when their parents do.