By Sophia Shiffman
Share the Keys, a program promoting safe driving education for young drivers and their parents, will be held at WHS on Feb. 25 in the Auditorium. The night will include a presentation followed by a round table discussion featuring representatives from Share the Keys, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Don-Tre Driving School and the Westfield Police Department. The event is open to all grade levels.
“It’s a data-driven presentation…designed to be seen with parent and student driver, and it is designed to reduce teen driver crash risks by increasing parental involvement…. It’s staggering that these are the real statistics,” said Physical Education Teacher Ms. Beverly Torok.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatal crash rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is 3 times that for drivers 20 years old and up. Risk is highest at ages 16–17, with the fatal crash rate per mile driven twice as high for 16- to 17-year-olds as it is for 18- to 19-year-olds.
The round table discussion will feature several participants: a facilitator from Share the Keys; State Farm Agent Ms. Christine Cosenza, answering any questions regarding insurance; Mr. Peter Carpenter, on behalf of Don-Tre Driving School; and Officer Jeffrey Johnson, representing the Westfield Police Department and answering questions about driving laws.
“Young drivers are the most susceptible to accidents mainly due to their lack of experience. While a teenager’s reaction time may be better than an older person’s, they do not have the experience to assess hazardous situations with the same proficiency,” said Cosenza.
Said Mr. Donald Carpenter, co-owner of Don-Tre Driving School: “Through education, we hope [young drivers] realize the level of maturity necessary to handle the responsibility they assume when they get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Hopefully, they will utilize the knowledge acquired in Driver Theory...and apply the skills learned.”
The night will also include prizes as incentives to attend. According to Torok, prizes include a six-hour behind-the-wheel course and road test brush-up course from Don-Tre, four Bluetooth headsets and two beach chairs from State Farm, two two-week parking spots in the back parking lot and various gift cards courtesy of the PTSO. Raffle tickets will be given to all students who attend the presentation with a parent.
According to Torok, Share the Keys is part of WHS’ project for the Fourth Annual U Got Brains Champion Schools Program, in which 61 New Jersey high schools develop teen driving safety programs for their schools.