Leaders of a growing statewide teen driving safety program who met with U.S. Representative Pete Gallego on May 20 announced their goal of reducing by half the number of young drivers using cell phones.
“A recent study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that 10 percent of drivers in Texas are using their cell phone at any point in time — that means 10 percent of drivers are talking on the phone or texting right now,” said Sydney Alvarado, a member of the Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) Teen Advisory Board. “But we can do better than that; with the right kind of positive peer pressure, we believe we can cut that number in half among young drivers.”
Rep. Gallego met with Advisory Board members at Texas A&M University San Antonio (TAMU-SA) as part of the group’s annual meeting and awards presentation. TAMU-SA President Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier also participated in the annual recognition.
“Too many senseless deaths occur due to distracted driving,” said Representative Pete Gallego (TX-23). “No one understands young people better than young people themselves. I’m glad that this group is being proactive and looking for creative ways to curb a bad and dangerous habit. I commend the Texas A&M Transportation Institute for heading up this program that could make our roads safer.”
The annual meeting of the TDS Teen Advisory Board brings the group to the city where the nationally-recognized program first began in 2002. It was during that year that the crash deaths of 10 teens over a six-week period prompted the Texas Department of Transportation to pursue more effective ways to keep young drivers and passengers safe, leading to the launch of TDS, created by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The program is now active in more than 500 Texas high schools and middle schools.
In addition to hosting the advisory group meeting, Dr. Ferrier helped recognize TDS program schools, student leaders and sponsors for their efforts. A total of 17 schools received awards — including cash prizes of up to $1,000 — for their creativity and effectiveness in programming; 46 incoming and outgoing advisory board members were recognized; and 13 faculty/staff members at the schools were honored as “SponStars.”
“The young leaders we recognize today are demonstrating that peer influence can prevent crashes and save lives,” said Russell Henk, who created and directs the TDS program at TTI. “Through their leadership and creative thinking, they’re serving as fine examples not only to each other, but to the rest of us on the road as well.”
Visit the Teens in the Driver Seat website for more information.