Cellphone blended artfully into road image

Turn Off Texting Program Now Scheduling

Turn Off Texting is a free, hands-on distracted driving safety demonstration that visits high schools across Vermont. We’re now scheduling presentations through September.

To Vermont’s Driver Educators:

The feeling of writing this note matches the spirit of this very sunny day — The Youth Safety Council’s Turn Off Texting presentations are available again to visit schools, and we are delighted to be back in service to Vermont’s youngest drivers!

The free program is now scheduling, ready to bring our mobile classroom and advanced driving simulator to your campus. Up to twelve students per hour can have a first-hand experience with the dangers of distracted driving in the safety of the simulator, and our presenter is able to stay through the school day to ensure all of your students have the opportunity to participate. To schedule a September TOT visit, please visit https://www.yscvt.org/request-a-tot-demo/ or email director@yscvt.org. We’ll look forward to making it happen.

Visit YSCVT.org for more information about this program, which is free to Vermont’s schools thanks to an educational grant from the Vermont State Highway Safety Office and sponsors like AT&T, the Vermont Insurance Agents Association, and the Vermont Association of Domestic Property & Casualty Insurance Companies. The simulator is made possible in collaboration with My Decision Driving.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels.

#802phonesdown!headsup! Video Contest Award Ceremony April 27!

The Youth Safety Council of Vermont and Vermont Highway Safety Alliance welcome all to attend the #802phonesdown!headsup! video contest virtual award ceremony at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 27th.

In conjunction with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, the VHSA hosted the third #802phonesdown!headsup! video public service announcement contest. The contest was open to high-school students and designed to encourage young drivers and their friends and peers to avoid distracted driving. Cash prizes will be awarded to the creators of the eight winning video PSAs. The award ceremony will include a special video message to the student contestants from Governor Phil Scott.

The goal for contest entrants was to research this important issue and produce a compelling 25-second video to enact change and spread the message to peers and the public that distracted driving is unacceptable and can have serious consequences. The VHSA hopes that videos produced by high-school students offer a relatable perspective for other young drivers. Finalists and winners were selected from the 49 entries submitted.

The contest cash prizes are sponsored by AT&T, Yankee Driving School, the Youth Safety Council of Vermont, Co-operative Insurance Companies, and Midstate Dodge, with support from the AAA New England.

Registration is required to view the virtual ceremony. Register online here.

Photo of texting driver.

Txt U L8R Returns to UVM Medical Center April 22

Txt U L8R is a virtual event for new and experienced drivers. Hosted by the University of Vermont Medical Center, a Level 1 trauma center, it brings to life the realities they see resulting from distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of preventable car crashes. Whether you recently got your permit or have been driving for decades, TXT U L8R will demonstrate the life-altering consequences of distracted driving and give you the tools to build better driving habits. This is a modified version of the in-person TXT U L8R presentation, and will include testimonies from a car crash survivor, medical staff, and Text Less Live More.

The virtual event is Thursday, April 22, 6-7pm. Register at UVMHealth.org/TxtUL8REvent or email InjuryPrevention@UVMHealth.org.

Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush.

Close to Back in Action! Paul Gets Vaccinated

Paul Gets Vaccinated!

Paul Burroughs, our extraordinary Turn Off Texting presenter, received his first vaccination shot on March 8. The Youth Safety Council sends our warmest appreciation to everyone involved in distributing vaccinations and moving Vermont closer to normalcy — the challenge has been huge, and these Vermonters have been up for it! We’re all looking forward to returning to schools with the Turn Off Texting mobile driving simulator this fall.

High School Video PSA Contest! #802phonesdown!headsup!

In conjunction with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA) announces the third #802phonesdown!headsup! video public service announcement contest!

The contest is open to high-school students and designed to encourage young drivers and their friends and peers to avoid distracted driving. Create a 25 second YouTube video on the dangers of distracted driving; the goal is to produce a video that will engage new drivers and highlight the dangers of distracted driving.

A total of $3,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the creators of the five winning video PSAs. Videos will be judged by committee for top awards, and by the public for a “People’s Choice Award” proudly sponsored by the Youth Safety Council of Vermont. The contest opened January 11 and entries are due by March 15, 2021. When your video is ready, register here!

1ST Prize: $750 – Sponsored by AT&T

2ND Prize: $500 – Sponsored byAT&T

3RD Prize: $300 – Sponsored byAT&T

4TH Prize: $250 – Sponsored by Yankee Driving School

People’s Choice Award – $500 Sponsored by the Youth Safety Council of Vermont & Co-Operative Insurance Companies

Additional support and funding sponsored by AAA New England and MidState Dodge Vermont.

The winning PSAs will be distributed in Vermont to media outlets and social media sites by the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance after the winners are notified.

When creating your entry, it’s important to abide by Vermont traffic laws and follow the COVID-19 protocols outlined by the Vermont Department of Health and CDC guidelines.

For a lot more information visit https://vermonthighwaysafety.org/resou…/psa-video-contest/

Photo by Fabian Albert on Unsplash.

Help Spread the Message About Safe Driving During National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 18-24

Learning how to drive is an exciting part of the journey to adulthood. Because of teens inexperience behind the wheel, however, driving can often be dangerous. Tragically, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 in the United States. To help keep you and your fellow teen drivers safe, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with the Youth Safety Council of Vermont during National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 18-24, 2020, to encourage teen drivers to follow the rules of the road while behind the wheel.

As a teen, it’s easy to think you’re invincible. NHTSA wants to share these stats with you, not to scare, but to emphasize the critical importance of safe driving. In 2018, there were 2,121 people killed in crashes involving a teen passenger vehicle driver (15-18 years old), of which 719 deaths were the teen driver — a 5% decrease from 2017. In fact, in 2018, there were an estimated 88,000 teen drivers injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and an estimated 256,000 people injured in crashes involving a teen driver, accounting for almost 10% of all those injured that year.

Remember: Driving is a privilege, not a right. While it may be tempting to hop in the car with your keys and new license and cruise the roads, we want to take this time to talk about the importance of safe driving habits and of following the law. We’re counting on your parents and guardians to help us share this information, and we’re counting on you to listen to it. During this week, we’ll be promoting five rules of the road you should follow to be a safer driver and to avoid crashes.

Impress mom, dad, or your caregiver: Visit NHTSA.gov and read their tips on teen driving safety. These influential adults will likely want to discuss with you the most dangerous and deadly driving behaviors for teen drivers: alcohol, lack of seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding, and driving with passengers.

Teens, your parents play an important role in helping you take smart steps to stay safe on the road, but ultimately it’s up to you to make the right decisions behind the wheel. The following five rules are a great starting point in your driver education — helping you become a safer driver.

  1. Don’t Drive Impaired. If you are under age 21, it’s illegal for you to drink alcohol, and it’s illegal for you to drive after drinking alcohol. Did you know that in 2018, 16% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system? But alcohol isn’t the only substance that can make you an unsafe driver: Marijuana, like other drugs, affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Driving is a complex task, and marijuana slows reaction times, affecting the driver’s ability to drive safely. Remember that alcohol and drugs — illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter — impair driving and have deadly consequences.
  2. Buckle Up — Every Trip, Every Time. Everyone — Front Seat and Back. Your seat belt is designed to keep you safe in a crash, but only if you’re wearing it. You should always buckle your seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back — no matter how long or short the trip. In 2018, almost half (45%) of the teen passenger vehicle drivers who died were unbuckled. Even more troubling, when the teen driver involved in the fatal crash was unbuckled, nine out of 10 of the passengers who died were also unbuckled. Before you start driving, buckle your seat belt and check to make sure your passengers are wearing theirs, too. It’s a simple task that could save your life.
  3. Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. All the Time. It’s tempting to answer a text or check your social media accounts while driving, but those few seconds that you take your eyes off the road could be your last. In 2018, among teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes, almost 10% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. If you think that your cell phone is your only distraction, you’re wrong: Other passengers, audio and climate controls, and eating or drinking while driving are all examples of dangerous distracted driving. Loud music is distracting, too. Be sure to always take your headphones off before driving. You need to be able to hear another vehicle’s horn, or the siren from an emergency vehicle.
  4. Follow the Posted Speed Limit. Speed limits aren’t just suggestions; they are there to keep you safe. In 2018, more than one-quarter (28%) of teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. Remember to always drive within the speed limit; it could be what saves you from a deadly crash.
  5. Driving your friends to school may seem like a good idea, but it’s not. According to NHTSA, teen drivers were 2.5 times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger, when compared to driving alone. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behaviors triples when driving with multiple passengers. If you have a provisional driver’s license, be sure you are aware of the restrictions in your state’s graduated driver licensing laws regarding transporting passengers, driving at night, and other key safety areas.

We know you’re probably hearing a lot of messages from your parents and guardians about things they want you to do, but the message about safe driving could save you and your friends’ lives. There’s a reason your parents are so strict when it comes to you getting behind the wheel: Surveys show that teens whose parents set firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors, and are involved in fewer crashes.

Now that you know the most important behaviors to follow to keep yourself safe, be sure to follow them every time you drive. And before you get behind the wheel, remember: Driving is a privilege, not a right. If you can’t follow the rules of the road, your parents have the power to take away the keys — and they should.

NHTSA’s website, www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving, has detailed information and statistics on teen driving, and the basic rules for you to follow to stay safe on the road.

Turn Off Texting is Now Booking with Mobile Simulator & Hygiene Protocols

Turn Off Texting is a free, hands-on distracted driving safety demonstration that visits high schools across Vermont. It’s now scheduling free presentations through September, with disinfecting protocols in place.

To our Vermont Driver Educator family,

We’ve prepared for a safe September return of the Turn Off Texting program and invite you to schedule a free visit of the presentation for your students. During this school year Turn Off Texting will be hosted in a mobile classroom with an advanced driving simulator. The Youth Safety Council has prepared hygiene protocols that give us confidence in our work to keep this important resource available. The program continues to be grant and sponsor-funded and remains free to driver educators.

If you aren’t familiar with Turn Off Texting (TOT), it is a first-hand driving experience that exposes student drivers to the hazards of distraction while driving. An advanced driving simulator provides a safe, controlled environment for students to have driving experiences while texting that give them an immediate understanding of its dangers. Learn more.

We are bringing special energy to scheduling TOT visits during the month of September to schools that can bring ten or more students to the presentation. Our presenter is available through each school day and TOT is open to all high school students holding driving permits or licenses. The TOT driving simulator is a unique resource in our state and we are deeply grateful to our program supporters for making it available to you and your students.

To schedule a TOT visit, please visit this page or email director@yscvt.org to learn more.

Our health protocols:

  • Our presenter will observe strict social distancing of six feet while on the job and wear a mask;
  • One student may participate at a time;
  • Signs will be posted at all entrances clearly indicating that no one may enter if they have symptoms of respiratory illness;
  • Hand sanitizer will be available to staff, students and educators;
  • All visitors to the simulator will sign-in with contact info on a contact tracing log;
  • The simulator will be wiped down with disinfectant after each participant.

We expect that schools will have temperature-monitoring or other screening processes in place, but our presenter will also screen with a no-touch thermometer and report temperatures 100• or more to the driver educator.

Back to School = New Sleep Patterns & Teen Drowsy Driving!

Our friends at Ford Driving Skills for Life spoke with Pam Shadel Fischer and Tim Burrows from the Governors Highway Safety Association to learn about the causes and signs of drowsy driving as well as what parents can do to help their teens get enough sleep. “Teens are more likely than any other age group to be involved in a drowsy driving crash and now teens might be headed back to school after six months at home. How we can return to a healthy sleep schedule to prevent drowsy driving?”

Governor Scott & DMV Announce Restart Plan for Driver’s License Services, Learner’s Permit Tests

Governor Phil Scott and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today announced a restart plan for resuming driver’s license tests and a new service for Vermonters to receive their learner’s permit online as the state begins limited resumption of services paused due to COVID-19.

“As operations and services come back online, the DMV has found new ways to serve Vermonters and will continue to innovate,” Governor Scott. “I’m grateful for Vermonters’ patience as we adapt to new health and safety measures, especially young drivers who are eager to get on the road.”

Starting today, Vermonters can take the learner’s permit test online at the DMV website, dmv.vermont.gov. Those who pass will receive their learner’s permit in the mail within three weeks. This new online test is for a standard learner’s permit only and does not include motorcycles or commercial vehicles.

“We are thrilled to offer this new online option to Vermonters who are ready to start driving,” said DMV Commissioner Wanda Minoli. “The COVID restrictions have required a temporary halt to DMV in-person transactions, but this new online service is another silver lining of the pandemic. As the DMV continues to modernize, we are now adding learner’s permit tests to the list of services that we provide to Vermonters online.”

Additionally, the DMV will resume offering driver’s license examinations next Monday, June 8. Starting today, customers who had a driving exam cancelled due to COVID-19 during March or April will be contacted by the DMV to reschedule their exam.

Beginning this Wednesday, June 3, customers who did not have a previously scheduled appointment may call and schedule a road test. To schedule exams, customers should call 802-828-2000. All exams are by appointment only. The DMV emphasizes that customers must wait until Wednesday to schedule new exams.

In order to move through the backlog of cancelled driver’s license road tests more efficiently, certified driver education instructors who are employed or contracted by a school may choose to be certified to act as agents of the DMV and be appointed as examiners to administer road tests for the issuance of standard operator and junior operator licenses. Students who pass the driving exam will be issued a temporary license, and a permanent license will be mailed to them within 90 days.

In order to administer driving tests, some DMV branch offices will reopen. Starting June 8, the Montpelier DMV will be open weekdays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for driver exams only by appointment only. The South Burlington and Rutland DMV branch offices will also be open weekdays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for driver exams and commercial driver’s license exams by appointment only. Customers who take the road test at a DMV location with a DMV staff examiner and pass will leave with a temporary paper license, and a permanent license will be mailed to them within 10 business days.

COVID-related safety precautions will be in place for all driving exams. All in-person transactions will occur outside. Driver’s test applicants will check in with the examiner and then wait in their vehicle prior to the exam. Applicants will be asked to sanitize their vehicle before the exam and leave windows open when possible to increase airflowNo more than two people may occupy a vehicle during a road exam, and both the applicant and the examiner must wear appropriate face coverings. Customers should not bring a guest into any location to maintain physical distancing. If a guest is essential, such as a parent, caregiver or translator, customers must specify that when making their appointment.

Image by Robertas Riabovas from Pixabay

Road

YSCVT During the Pandemic: You Are In Our Thoughts

The pandemic experience has challenged all of us and brought tragedy to many families in Vermont; our hearts are with you as we face this crisis together. 

When schools were closed and the public was asked to ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ by Governor Scott, the Youth Safety Council of Vermont canceled its spring 2020 Turn Off Texting programming. We are thinking deeply about how to bring the benefits of safety education to young drivers during this time of physical distancing practices. Like you, we are hopeful that the world will safely return to comfortable normalcy, but are determined to adhere to practices that serve the public health as a priority in the meantime. 

If schools open for the autumn and appropriate public health practices can be implemented, the Council will seek to return Turn Off Texting programming to high school campuses across the state. We have a lot of catching-up to do, with nearly a generation of young Vermont drivers yet to participate in the hands-on experience of Turn Off Texting, an important highlight of their driving education.

Please know that the staff and board of the Youth Safety Council send the warmest, positive energy to you and your loved ones and wish health and wellbeing to you all. We hope to see you again in person, soon.

Photo courtesy Marcos Miranda.