‘Strive For a Safer Drive’

Ishpeming High School involved in teen safe driving program

Ben Gronvall is shown taking part in a Strive For a Safe Drive project as a senior at Ishpeming High School. The high school again is participating in the safety initiative. (Photo courtesy of Ben McGuire)

ISHPEMING — After they get their driver’s licenses, perhaps the last thing on teenagers’ minds is driving safely. However, maybe the teen years are when they should instill good habits they carry into adulthood.

Ishpeming High School has received $1,000 as part of the Strive For a Safer Drive program, a public-private partnership between Ford Driving Skills for Life and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

The peer-led safety campaign seeks to reduce traffic crashes — the top cause of death for teens — by having teens make videos or PowerPoint presentations.

Leading the program at IHS is business teacher Ben McGuire, who noted this is the school’s third year being involved.

“Every year you pick a theme, and this year our theme is safe winter driving,” McGuire said.

The students are creating a video centered on safe driving, but the project is so much more, involving activities such as morning announcements.

“We do safe driving tips, things you can do to be safe driving in the winter and things like that,” McGuire said. “We just give them facts about driving in the winter — accidents happen more often.”

The website about the program, Michigan.gov/s4sd, has a fact sheet on driving, which includes:

≤ In Michigan, the most common hazardous action for the 121 drivers ages 15-20 who were involved in a fatal crash in 2017 was speeding, according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts.

≤ From the Michigan Department of State: Stopping distances can be 10 times greater in ice and snow. Begin the slowing-down process long before a stop. Brake only when traveling in a straight line.

≤ Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. At any given moment across the United States, about 660,000 drivers are using or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

As part of the S4SD program, traffic safety campaigns undertaken by schools educate classmates about topics such as distracted driving, seat belt use, speeding and underage drinking/impaired driving.

“The kids enjoy it, and it helps the other students around the school hopefully be more informed,” McGuire said. “A lot of these kids are just starting to drive, so driving in the winter is tough for them.”

He said the video is to be finished and turned in by the end of February.

“It’s a really good program,” said McGuire, who pointed out only two other high schools in the Upper Peninsula, Ontonagon and Rudyard, are taking part this year.

A total of 62 Michigan high schools are involved.

One of the students participating in the program for IHS is junior Kayla Koski.

Koski said she’s in charge with coming up with safety facts, which are broadcast in the school in the morning. She also is helping with the video.

“It’s kind of fun,” Koski said of the project.

She has previous experience with making videos and, as is the case with most drivers in the area, traveling in wintry weather.

Does Koski have a hard time driving in winter?

“A little bit, sometimes,” she said.

Being involved in S4SD helps.

The top five campaigns will be selected, with winning schools winning a cash prize ranging from $500 to $1,500. Following their activities, schools will have the opportunity to send students in the spring to a free hands-on driving clinic with professional driving instructors sponsored by Ford Driving Skills for Life.

Jim Graham, global manager for Ford Driving Skills for Life, said in a news release that programs such as S4SD have been shown to help young, novice drivers make smart decisions behind the wheel.

“Through hands-on learning, we hope to improve teen driver safety and decrease the risk that teen drivers pose to themselves and others,” he said.

Several factors come into play when it comes to youth driving.

“Inexperience and risk-taking behavior are factors that increase the crash risk for young drivers,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director, in a news release. “This campaign aims to increase safety and raise awareness about teen driving in a way that teens can relate to and better understand.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.