South Middle School to kick off anti-distracted driving campaign at Thursday night's game
Rapid City, S.D., Oct. 19, 2011 - Students at South Middle School know full well the dangers of distracted driving. That's a why a group of students banded together to apply for and win a State Farm $5,000 Drive the Dollars grant in June, 2011. Their goal: reduce distracted driving and other risky driving behaviors that lead to motor vehicle crashes, the number one killer of South Dakota's teens.
"This whole group is trying to make a difference so others think the same," said 8th grader, Sarah Glanzer who is a part of the campaign. "We just want people to be safe."
South Middle School’s kickoff event will be held at the Cobbler-Raider Football game on at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20th, at O'Hara Stadium, 501 E St Joseph St. The students will have a booth and will give away "Think" thumb rings and informative pamphlets. They will ask everyone who gets a thumb ring to sign a pledge sheet promising not to text and drive.
"I like knowing that I am helping out our society by trying to prevent distracted driving," said Jenna Kautzman, a freshman at Central High School.
This youth-led safety initiative kicks off during a week meant to draw attention to auto safety. National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) is observed the third week of October to bring attention to the number one killer of American teens, car crashes. During this week, parents, young drivers, lawmakers and educators are encouraged to focus on working together to change risky teen driving behaviors and help save lives. In 2007, State Farm and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia supported the congressional resolution designating NTDSW.
"The students have a great plan to get the word out about distracted driving; handing out the thumb bands is just a start," said Nancy Deranleau, teacher and program advisor. "We may not be able to eliminate all of texting while driving, but we are going to try."
South Middle School was awarded the State Farm grant at the "Race against Distracted Driving" 5 K walk/ run June 11 in Sioux Falls at Howard Wood Field. Drive the Dollars was a distracted driving program sponsored by State Farm and inspired by the company's partnership with 2010 Miss South Dakota Loren Vaillancourt.
"South Middle is full of passionate students who will educate our community about the dangers of distracted driving," said Rapid City State Farm Agent Matt McCormick, who has worked closely with the school. "The students will reach out to community businesses; utilize technology and social media and present to numerous community groups to spread the word throughout the Black Hills."
The National Safety Council attributes 1.3 million crashes per year to cell phone talking and texting while driving. A South Dakota Department of Public Safety survey polled 751 licensed drivers and state identification card holders ages 16 and up in June, 2010. Fully 91.3 percent of those polled "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" that the South Dakota Legislature should pass a ban on texting while driving.
Melissa Paulik, State Farm Insurance, (402) 326-0695.
State Farm and its' affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts - more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 37 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.