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Teens recognized for Traffic Safety Campaign

During the month of April the Morris Police Department sponsored the Traffic Safety Campaign at the Morris Area High School. Grant funds provided prizes for top essays and public safety announcements. The grand prizes, chosen randomly, were awarded to Stefan Lemke, Thomas Roberts, and Haley Hemore. The student council assisted the police department in its efforts throughout the month. In the accompanying photo are (front row, left to right) winners of $50 gift cards, Jenna Nelson, Tera Engebretson, and Andrew Rentz; student council members Missy Ascheman, Kelsey Greenwaldt, and Travis Rinkenberger, i-Pod winners, Thomas Roberts, Haley Hemore, Stefan Lemke, and officers Anita Liebl and Reggie Welle. See Teen Driving Safety Contest essays by Lemke, Julie Blood and Hemore below.

Stefan Lemke

Teen Driving Safety Contest

Homicide, suicide, cancer, heart disease, and other health issues are among the leadinr causes of deaths among teens, ages 15-19. However, teen deaths resulting from driving accidents far surpass the number of deaths from all the other causes combined. Over 5,000 teens, ages 16 - 20, die each year due to car accidents, with an additional 400,000 seriously injured. This deadly toll results, to a large extent, from lack of driving experience, but also reflects the fact that the teenage brain is still a work in progress. The prefrontal cortex, which contains the mechanisms of self-control, is one of the last parts of the brain to mature. As a result, teenagers are prone to risk taking, impulsive behavior, and sensation seeking, all of which can cause trouble behind the wheel of a two- or three-ton vehicle hurtling down a highway.

According to the government website, "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention", teenage drivers tend to underestimate hazardous driving situations and are less able than older drivers to recognize dangerous situations. Furthermore, teenager drivers are more likely to speed and tailgate, creating a dangerous combination. Other statistics from a 2005 survey of 1,000 people ages 15 and 17, conducted by the Allstate Foundation, show more risks: 56 percent of young drivers use cell phones while driving, 69 percent said that they speed to keep up with traffic, 64 percent said they speed to go through a yellow light, and 47 percent said that passengers sometimes distract them. Clearly, in light of these statistics, the number of deaths occurring ftom driving accidents is staggering. Most accidents are preventable! Teens need to become more aware of the risks they face while driving and how real they truly are. They must face the fact that they are prone to take part in risk behaviors and learn to avoid them. Avoiding risks is a simple way teens can improve their driving, and their probability of avoiding accidents.

Essay for Driver Safety

By Julie Blood

Do you think that any text message is worth the risk of losing your life? I believe if a text is very important to receive either pull over, or have a friend read it to you. Otherwise, leave it until you arrive at your destination. I personally love my cell phone. But I would not give mine or another person's life for it.

Three seconds of having your eyes off the road and for all you know you could kill a family in another car. Believe it or not, three seconds is all it takes. Some think they can multitask. That is what I thought too before we rolled my sister's truck. We were only about a mile away from our destination when the teen driving grabbed his cell phone. He got a text message from a friend. About six words of reading was what he got through when we all realized it was too late for him to regain control of our truck. We flipped twice, landed upside down, all for just a text message. Was it worth it? No! We could have been severely hurt. If it weren't for our seatbelts, I'm sure we wouldn't be alive today.

What feelings would you have if this happened to you? What if someone would die in an accident you caused because of a text you received from a friend? I don't think I could live the rest of my life knowing that I took someone else's life because of a text. That text could have easily waited. This is my announcement to everyone. "Don't use texting while driving! All that will come of it is pain and heartache. No text is worth the life of another. Please think of this when you hop into a car carrying your cell phone.

Driver safety

By Haley Hemore

Responsibilities and freedoms come with age. As kids become teens, they're getting their licenses and hitting the road. Unfortunately, puffing a cell phone in the hands of an inexperienced driver can cause problems. Studies show that 48% of teens in the United States admit to texting while driving at least once. The average time it takes to look at a text and respond is about five seconds. Imagine what can happen in just five seconds.

The "normal" teenager seems to believe that they're invincible and it can't happen to them. But the sad truth is, a deadly crash can happen at anytime because of multiple reasons. After a compilation of mistakes teens make while driving, such as distractions by passengers, eating while driving, and drinking while driving, those quick five seconds to send a text message might be the last five seconds they spend alive. Not only are they putung themselves in danger, but they're creating a danger for all other drivers.

This situation is becoming all too familiar. Families across the nation are getting sad greetings from police officers and other law enforcement that their son or daughter has been killed in a crash that resulted from the inattentiveness due to texting while driving. A solution would be destroy every last cell phone, but that's irrational. Another, more reasonable solution may be to enforce more rules and apply more penalties for those who continue to play "chicken" with their cell phone and vehicle.

Teens aren't the only ones with a texting addiction. So, even if a teenager does believe they're invincible, that's okay. Just let them know to always pay full attention to the road, because the driver in the other car may not be quite as invincible as they are, so they should be on the look out.