The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

April 23, 2014

New initiative aimed to keep teen drivers safe

With three area high schools set to hold proms this weekend, a group of local elected officials and volunteers are working to educate teens on safe driving.

The newly-formed group is the Daviess County Child Fatality Review Team. The team comprises of Prosecutor Dan Murrie, Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit, Coroner Laura Petty, Washington Police Det. Trent McWilliams, Washington Fire Chief Dave Rhoads, county Health Nurse Kathy Sullender, county Health Educator Cheryl Jones, local Division of Child Services director Briley Terrell, Daviess Community Hospital nurses Tina Durnil, Shawna O’Kelley Brinson and Chrissy Wininger, behavioral health representative Jana Shearer, Southwest Medical EMT Mike Martin and Washington High Assistant Principal Troy Zollars.

The goal of the team, according to a release, is to protect “the most vulnerable members of our community by creating a multidisciplinary team whose only mission is to make Daviess County safer for our children.”

And with proms coming up and later graduation, that means teenage driving-related fatalities.

Five teenagers have died in the past two years in accidents in Daviess County. The Child Fatality Review Team is using an outreach program called “Drive Alive” to help stem the tide of teenager-related driving accidents and deaths.

“As prom and graduation season approaches, so does the potential for automobile crashes among teen drivers,” Petty said. “Automobile crashes remain the No. 1 killer of teens. Most of these accidents can be prevented by using safe driving skills.”

The purpose of the “Drive Alive” program is asking parents to discuss safe driving with their teens. According to information provided by the program, 60 percent of teens say the largest influence on their driving is their parents. Studies say teens who talk with parents about safe driving are less likely to die in accidents.

According to “Drive Alive,” young drivers are three times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents.

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