Operation Teen Driving Asks Teens to Develop Safety Message
By: Carly O'Keefe
CARBONDALE, Ill. - This year has been a tragic one for teenagers on Heartland highways. Between southern Illinois, southeast Missouri and western Kentucky, more than a dozen young people have lost their lives in vehicle accidents in the past three months.
In the state of Illinois, leaders are turning to teens to find answers on how to stop this terrible trend.
"The leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 20 are automobile crashes," said Deputy Press Secretary Henry Haupt of the Illinois Secretary of State's Office.
A panel of state leaders met with Carbondale Community High School students Wednesday in an effort to change that startling statistic.
"For every citation we write, every crash that we handle, we hope we can avoid having another one. Education is the key," said Captain Michael Irwin of Illinois State Police District #13.
As most folks know, teenagers don't always heed adult wisdom. That's why a new effort called "Operation Teen Safe Driving" asks the teenagers themselves to develop a message of safety for their peers and hopefully save a life.
"You don't realize how one life can affect so many others. So it's really important to get the word out there not to speed, wear your seat belt, and don't drive drunk," said Carbondale Community High School senior Michelle Thorne.
Throughout Illinois, 105 high schools will be awarded $1000 grants for students to develop and put into action teen driver safety programs. The seven best teen-led programs in the state will win $5000 to throw a post-prom bash for their school.