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Spencer County High School student, Lee ‘Buddy’ Perry, was among 23 students throughout the state selected by Kentucky State Police to participate in the “Drive to Stay Alive” academy. The program ran from Sept. 5-9 and was held at the KSP Headquarters in Frankfort.
The program teaches the students safe driving techniques by KSP instructors with hands-on road driving and classroom exercises, including the dangers of driving impaired, seat belt safety, distracted and aggressive driving.
Buddy is the son of Dawn Mariano of Mount Eden and Lee Perry of Osweyo, N.Y. He said the DTSA program was an awesome experience.
“I cannot wait to go back to my school and share what I learned,” says Perry. “I want to make Spencer County a safer place to drive.”
Public Affairs Branch Commander Sgt. Rick Saint-Blancard explained that the Drive to Stay Alive program was designed not only to decrease teen crashes but to provide students with the tools to be advocates in their own schools.
“The training includes topics such as collision causation, vehicle dynamics and skid control, backing skills, multiple turns and lane interchange, safety belts and air bags, evasive maneuvers, off-road recovery, and controlled braking,” advises Saint-Blancard.
According to Saint-Blancard, the real potential of the Drive to Stay Alive program begins after the students return to their schools.
“The students are teamed with an experienced state trooper to spread the message to other students in each school and within their community as well,” he says. “The effectiveness of the program is based on the concept that a message conveyed by a fellow student carries more weight with other students and is therefore more memorable.”
The DTSA students are evaluated and scored on the safe driving programs they present in their respective schools and communities. The students with the most effective programs, resulting in increased seat belt usage, are eligible for scholarship funds.
The DTSA program is funded through KSP and a grant from State Farm Insurance Company.
In 2011, there were 21,350 teen driving collisions resulting in 4,152 injuries and 63 deaths in Kentucky.
“The goal of this program is to save lives and especially those of our teenagers,” says KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer. “Our youth are the future of the Commonwealth and if we can get them to buy-in to this program — becoming advocates for safe driving — It will save lives.”
Commissioner Brewer believes the Drive to Stay Alive program will have a lasting effect on the students who graduate the program.
“We have given them great opportunities this week and have challenged their driving capabilities,” says Brewer. “They have met people during this program who have shared stories that will stay with them for a lifetime.”
For more information about the program or how your school can get involved, please contact the KSP Public Affairs Branch at 502-782-1780.