The following was submitted by West Chester Area School District.
With prom and graduation seasons just around the corner, the mission to protect teenage lives in motor vehicles received a significant boost at West Chester Bayard Rustin High School when Police Officer Chris Daly presented his proprietary “Drive to Survive” program before an audience of 11th and 12th graders. Safe vehicle operation was only part of the educational and interactive morning assembly, which also included a focus on teen behavior and initiatives for making sensible choices. Funding for this unique program was provided by Rustin’s Parent Teacher Association and the Students Against Drunk Driving Club.
Rustin Principal Dr. Phyllis Simmons strongly endorsed the event, saying, “This program is a wonderful collaboration by our PTO, SADD Club, administration, and staff, and will educate our students on how and why to safely operate a vehicle. We want to help ensure the safety of all our students while they’re driving.”
In Pennsylvania alone, 72 young people aged 14-19 died in automobile accidents in 2011, the last year for which full statistics are available. Many more were injured and left debilitated due to vehicle incidents, many of which involved bad decision-making. “In order to ensure preventable car accidents don’t occur in the first place,” said Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Scanlon, “The Drive to Survive program focuses on avoiding situations known to law enforcement as likely to lead to death and destruction. The message presented really helps young people think about driving safely because automobiles are a great luxury but can be very dangerous if operated carelessly.”
In the absence of outside funding, hosting safety programs such this might not be possible, so the financial backing of the PTO was essential. “The Rustin Parent Teacher Organization is grateful to be able to work with the administration and the SADD Club to fund a program like "Drive to Survive" that will help keep our kids safe on the road,” said Gina Lombardi, co-president of the Rustin PTO.
Officer Daly, with the Borough of West Chester Police Department, continually refines his highly-respected presentation and ensures that the program has the maximum impact possible on high school students, many of whom have only been behind the wheel of a car for a short time. Passengers in student-driven cars also have a responsibility to keep things safe and sensible.
According to club member and 11th grade student Natalie Conners, “The Rustin SADD club is very excited to have the “Drive to Survive” assembly coming to our school. The program will teach students new information about safe driving, and it will aid SADD's continued effort to work with our student body in making positive decisions.”