MONTGOMERYVILLE PA – Students from across four counties, including those at Owen J. Roberts and Phoenixville Area high schools, joined Tuesday (May 2, 2023) in a five-hour “Teen Safe Driving ROADeo” intended to show that, while fun and exciting for the newly licensed, driving is serious business.
Hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and agencies from Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, and Bucks counties, the event’s stated goal was to promote “positive driving behaviors behind the wheel and on the road.”
Its message? “Driving is a serious task requiring all your attention,” Chester County Highway Safety Project Director Lori McCloskey explained. The third annual program, she said, was “designed to enhance awareness of the risk for novice drivers, and provide tools that support safe driving behaviors.”
Teens got behind the wheel using educational and interactive demonstrations during the free event at the Montgomery Township Community and Recreation Center, 1030 Horsham Rd. ROADeo participation since its start in 2019 has climbed from 35 students in the first year to nearly 100 Tuesday.
Eight separate stations offered students everything from safety tips to driving simulations. Demonstrations covered how to become a defensive driver, what to do during traffic stops, and avoiding heavy truck blind spots. Other topics involved the use of jumper cables, how to check oil and fluids, and how to change a tire.
“We showed the teens what to do while driving, and what not to do as a passenger,” Carly Mannon, who manages the Bucks County Community Traffic Safety Program, reported.
Life lessons like those are essential on state and local highways, statistics indicate. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 24-year-olds, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
Across the Philadelphia region, PennDOT data shows that, last year alone, there were 3,868 crashes involving drivers between 16 and 19 years old. They resulted in 24 fatalities, and 118 suspected serious injuries, it added. Key contributors in crashes involving the state’s teen drivers include distractions, driving too fast for conditions, improper or careless turning, and driver inexperience.
The best possible outcome of Tuesday’s effort, Montgomery County Community Traffic Safety Program Manager Elizabeth Raum observed, “is to save teen lives.”
PennDOT offers more information online about teen driver safety.
Photo by Ed Zbarzhyvetsky on Deposit Photos, used under license