In October 2012, students monitored traffic at the intersections adjacent to Santa Barbara High School, San Marcos High School, Dos Pueblos High School and Carpinteria High School, and counted 274 instances of distracted driving in just one hour.
Funded by a grant from The Allstate Foundation and administered through the California Friday Night Live Partnership, this research was done by students as part of a statewide campaign. Locally, students recorded distractions such as talking on the phone, texting and even reading while driving.
Motivated by these observations, Santa Barbara County FNL members are implementing school-based campaigns that will aim to eliminate distracted driving among their peers and in their community. These students are also participating in a national campaign, Act Out Loud, and plan to hold rallies in honor of National Youth Traffic Safety Month in May.
“Engaging California’s young people like this encourages their positive and healthy development and empowers them to become active leaders,” said Jim Kooler, director of the California Friday Night Live Partnership.
As part of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, these teens are an example of alcohol and drug-free youth who work together to create a healthier community through outreach activities, such as Santa Barbara County’s annual Red Ribbon Week in October, policy advocacy, and the development of youth leaders.
“Car accidents are still the leading cause of death among teens in the United States. Distracted driving is becoming increasingly more common among teens and is a huge contributing factor to these fatal collisions,” said Melissa Wilkins, prevention coordinator at the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and adviser to Friday Night Live. “For that reason, it is an issue that is close to our hearts.”
— Lauren Haines is the media and special events manager for the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.