Teen driving forum aimed at reducing crashes

In Clermont County, four teens lost their lives in car crashes last year. Across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control reports that eight teens die every day in crashes.

The CDC has found the risk of car crashes is highest among 16-19 year-olds, compared to any other age group. With those findings in mind, Clermont Safe Communities is inviting a team from every school in the county to attend a free Teen Driving Forum between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8 at UC Clermont College in Batavia.

“We’ve invited each school to send a team of six students to attend the forum that will feature a variety of presentations, including one from Skip Phelps of Cincinnati.

His 15-year-old daughter and her friend were killed in a crash after leaving Northwest High School in May 2007. They were in a car with three other teens. The newly-licensed 16-year-old driver was reportedly speeding,” said Martha Enriquez, coordinator for Clermont Safe Communities.

Other presenters will include Andrea Rehkamp (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), Ricky Birt (Students Against Destructive Decisions), Lt. Randy McElfresh (Ohio State Highway Patrol- Batavia Post Commander), Stephanie Lambers (Tri-State ThinkFirst Injury Prevention), and other representatives from local law enforcement.

“Gloria DelCastillo with the trauma center at Children’s Hospital will discuss distracted driving,” said Enriquez. “I recently had a health class monitor a portion of their community for 30 minutes and report what they saw. Around half of the drivers observed were doing something in addition to operating their cars! In the two or three seconds it takes to fiddle with the radio or a cell phone, cars travel a long distance.”

Enriquez said she is hopeful that the teens attending the forum will take the safe driving messages back to their schools and set up activities to educate their fellow classmates about the dangers of distracted driving and speeding.

For more information about the Teen Driving Forum and traffic safety issues involving teens, contact Clermont Safe Communities at (513) 735-8409 or visit the website www.ClermontHealthDistrict.org and click on Community Health and Education.