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Posted June 13, 2014
All Children’s Hospital Hosts Second Annual Teen Safe Driving Leadership Academy
Teen Safe Driving Academy
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All Children's Hospital hosted the second annual Teen Safe Driving Leadership Academy on June 6 - 9. Teens, chaperones, traffic safety experts, educators, community members and representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida Sheriff's Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida SADD and MADD,  gathered  to train and empower teens to become safety ambassadors  at their schools and their communities.

Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death of teens. The Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition works to help prevent deaths and injuries associated with these crashes by educating the public about graduated driver license (GDL) systems. States with strong GDL systems have seen as much as a 40 percent reduction in teen-related crashes. Graduated driver licensing is a process in which there are restrictions for different age groups of learners' permits and drivers' licenses up to the age of 18. These restrictions include limiting the hours when teens can operate a vehicle.

The Coalition developed a leadership academy to train teens and inspired them to create a teen safe-driving campaign for their community. Teens will receive seed funding for the project, as well as mentorship, and will join the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition as advisory board members. During the workshops, teens learned about the dangers of distracted and impaired driving.

The program began with a road safety audit. Participants identified engineering issues to consider when building roads, intersections and sidewalks. The engineers took the teens through parts of downtown St. Petersburg in bright vests labeled FDOT for the Florida Department of Transportation. Each group looked at an intersection to identify potential hazards or improvements at that location. They identified intersections that seemed safer than others and suggested possible improvements to unsafe areas.

The teens additionally participated in an impaired driving presentation conducted by experts from FL SAFE, Inc. They also toured the All Children's Emergency Center, learned various features of trauma rooms and visited the helipad with members of ACH Critical Care Transport Team.

The conference included a panel of ambassadors (leadership academy alumni) who spoke about their experience with project development in their schools, working with the media and politicians to make changes in their community. This panel had a positive impact on the participants, highlighting the successes and challenges of those who had previously attended the academy.

Participants also met with their mentors and chaperones to develop traffic-related injury prevention projects for their schools and their communities. The Occupant Protection Program at ACH will continue to mentor with teens in Polk and Pasco Counties and continue to serve on the Teen Safe Driving Coalition.