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Cast a vote to keep roads safe

LIME ROCK —  Even when a teenager who is immensely responsible gets behind the wheel of a car, parents worry.

And not without reason. Car crashes are the number one reason that people end up in hospital emergency rooms, according to Bob Green, a former race car driver and founder of Survive the Drive. “These crashes are the leading cause of violent injury throughout the country, I have the proof. Teens are particularly vulnerable. We don’t call them ‘accidents.’ The car can’t make its own error.â€

Survive the Drive is a program designed to keep teens safe behind the steering wheel. “We give them information that parents, driver’s ed, the DMV Driver’s manual and test generally don’t cover — including understanding, attitude and behavior.â€

Green, who lives in Salisbury, travels around the country presenting common-sense tips from a driving expert to high school students — 10 schools this past year. In particular, the class teaches teens the importance of paying attention.

“Small mistakes can have catastrophic results,†Greens aid. “We’ve always had personal distractions that contributed to crashes. Now, with cell phones and texting — and thanks to  ‘black box’ data recorders — we can prove when a driver was not focused.

“We call the use of intrusive electronic equipment DWO — or Driving While Oblivious  You just can’t focus on doing two things. And in just one moment …  a crash takes milliseconds. And the figures are showing that DWO is worse than DWI. It is grim to talk about injuries and fatalities. But these are the facts.â€

In an effort to get some additional money that will help make the program available to more teens, Green has signed on to an innovative program being offered by Pepsi. A thousand applicants were selected and online voting began April 1.

Internet users are asked to vote (as often as once a day) for programs they consider worthy. The top 10 votegetters will be awarded grants. For Survive the Drive, Green is hoping to get enough votes to earn $50,000, which will enable him to take the program to more teen drivers, at a lower cost.

Anyone over the age of 18 can vote and can live anywhere in the world. Green said he’s already had a vote from a resident of Norway.  As of this week, Survive the Drive was ranked at 130 out of 1,000. The top 10 get the grant.

To vote, go to refresheverything.com/survivethedrive; sign up, then vote daily. For updates and information on the program, voters can also sign up as fans on Facebook, search for survivethedrive.org. Voting continues through April.

Safety tips for teen drivers

The Facebook page  for Survive the Drive offers top tips for teens and parents, bits of which are offered below. Find the full list at survivethedrive.org/Article.asp?ArticleID=25.

Top tips for teen drivers — or, what they don’t ask on the driver’s test:

The car is just a heavy piece of equipment moving over rubber rollers filled with air. The rest is up to you....

• You need to be on top of the job. Don’t assume you are safe when you are driving. Car crashes take place in a moment’s time.

• You are your decisions. At 60 mph (or 90 feet per second), changing the station on the radio — in maybe three or four seconds, you will have gone the length of a football field ... with no one driving.

• What is proximity to a  hazard? That is having a 12-foot-wide road to drive a 6-foot-wide car and only 100 feet to stop a 4,000-pound, 60 mph projectile using only the tires to stop.

On any public road, you’re always close to something you can hit. A skid is trajectory, force against tires. The car isn’t any smarter than a hockey puck. A 4-inch mistake is unacceptable. Ask that squirrel. In a Ferrari or KIA, a 4-inch wreck would be a huge mistake.   

• Thirty-five mph is “bloody fast.†That’s the speed used on all those crash tests you see on television.

The seat belt and air bag may not be enough restraint to keep your body back from what is the equivalent of a fall off a four-story building.

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