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.

Award Winners with the Governor

PSA Video Contest for Vermont High School Students: The Dangers of Distracted Driving

The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance is proud to announce an award contest for Vermont high school students designed to change driving habits with original student-made public service announcement videos!

We all know texting distracts us, and that use of a handheld device while driving is dangerous. Despite this we see people on the roads texting and driving every day. As an applicant you have one clear mission: Create a PSA using your smart phone (or other video recorder) to encourage young drivers, friends, and peers, to avoid distracted driving, specifically texting while driving. Over time we can enact change and spread the message that texting and driving is unacceptable. Too many lives have been lost due to distracted drivers. The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance is asking you to help change this behavior.

The mission of the contest: Create a 25 second Video Public Service Announcement!

For the video, use your creativity and express your opinion on the issue of distracted driving. You can video yourself, a group of people, make a cartoon, or compose a graphic. We encourage you to capture the attention of your peers with a clear message and persuade them to adopt safe driving habits. We do require that the PSA is in good taste, and that you do not film yourself or anyone else actually texting while driving. Abide by all state laws.

For more information: https://vermonthighwaysafety.org/psa-video-contest/

Video Contest Prize amounts:

1ST Prize: $750

2ND Prize: $500

3RD Prize: $250

People’s Choice Award – Amount to be announced

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

Here’s an entry from last year’s contest:

Walk Audit, photo courtesy America Walks

New Pedestrian Safety Toolkit Available

The Vermont Agency of Transportation and Department of Health have published a free downloadable Pedestrian Safety and Vulnerable Road Users Toolkit for Vermonters everywhere, providing guidance for improving the ability of people to walk in their communities. It shows how improving walkability is valuable, from health to social equity reasons, and gives suggestions for improving pedestrian safety at school drop-off zones; at night; at road crossings and more. Download the Toolkit at https://safestreets.vermont.gov/sites/safestreets/files/documents/Pedestrian%20Safety%20and%20Vulnerable%20Road%20User%20Toolkit.pdf

Photo from America Walks.

National Teen Driver Safety Week

October 20-26th is National Teen Driver Safety Week

“October 20-26th is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence. Parents can be the biggest influencers on teens’ choices behind the wheel. Help your kids make safe decisions as new drivers, and set a good example by putting your phone away when you’re in the car.”

That’s the Youth Safety Council’s message this week, heard on the radio in Vermont. Download it here!

In 2017, there were 2,247 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver (15-18 years old), of which 755 deaths were the teen driver — a 3% decrease from 2016. In fact, in 2017, there were an estimated 93,000 teen drivers injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and an estimated 293,000 people injured in crashes involving a teen driver, accounting for an estimated 11% of all those injured that year.

Help us highlight how important it is for experienced drivers to be a good example to young, new and impressionable drivers who are still learning the habits of safety mindedness. Be a safe driver, without distractions, for your safety and to make sure the next generation of drivers keep everybody safe, too.

National Teen Driver Safety Week is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to prevent teen injuries and deaths on the road, now in its 12th year. For more info see https://www.teendriversource.org/advocacy-education/national-teen-driver-safety-week or https://www.nhtsa.gov/teen-driving/protect-your-teen-driver

Photo by nappy from Pexels

Stan Blicharz

Vermont Driver Educator Stan Blicharz Awarded ‘Teacher of Excellence’

The Youth Safety Council of Vermont congratulates our colleague Stan Blicharz on his receipt of the ADTSEA ‘Teacher of Excellence Award’!…

Five driver education teachers from MinnesotaMissouriNorth CarolinaNorth Dakota and Vermont have been selected by their peers nationwide as Teachers of Excellence. The honor, from the American Driver & Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA), carries with it a cash stipend from The National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit group that creates driver safety education materials and makes them available at no cost to teachers and schools, police, traffic safety advocates and youth organizations.

The 2019 Teachers of Excellence are Raymond Kroll, who teaches at DeLaSalle High School in MinneapolisRobert Droege, a teacher at Lindbergh High School in St. LouisMichael Jones, Sr., a teacher at South Mecklenburg High School and the Jordan Driving School in Charlotte, N.C.Darin Bardal, an instructor in the West Fargo, N.D. public schools; and Stanley Blicharz, director of driver education in the West Rutland School District and Burr & Burton Academy in Vermont.

“Driving instructors are a dedicated and passionate group whose mission is to save lives and prevent needless tragedy by helping young people learn how to drive safely and responsibly.  They often serve as role models for their students in many ways that go beyond driving safely,” said David Reich, of The National Road Safety Foundation and a member of the ADTSEA Board of Directors.  “The teachers being honored with the Teacher Excellence Award have demonstrated impressive creativity and enthusiasm in the important work they do.”

Teacher of Excellence honoree Raymond Kroll has been teaching driver ed since 1966.  He has also been a strong advocate for pupil transportation safety, having been coordinator of Minnesota’s school bus driver development program and serving three terms as president of the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation.  As the newly-appointed Legislative Chair of the Minnesota Driver & Traffic Safety Education Association, he says he is pushing for the state to mandate that all 18 and 19 year-olds complete the requirements of the state’s enhanced GDL law.

Robert Droege, who has been teaching driver ed in St. Louis for five years, feels technology is a major factor in the quickly-changing role of drivers, presenting challenges and great opportunities for the driver education community. He notes that many students don’t understand the capabilities and the limitations of new driver assist technologies, and he has been working with his school district to enhance the use and the reality of classroom simulators.  “Driver ed content is immediate and relevant for teenagers,” Droege said.  “The information and activities in our classes can be immediately applied in the daily life of students, and I love seeing the ‘aha’ moment when students experience in real life a concept learned in class.”

Michael Ray Jones, Sr., has been teaching for 25 years in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools in North Carolina and has been a classroom and behind-the-wheel instructor for the Jordan Driving School since 2011.  He serves as a mentor teacher for new instructors in the school’s student teaching program.  Jones would like to see state and national standards expanded so student drivers get more behind-the-wheel training.  “Students need more in-car training with an instructor so they can become competent and skillful low-risk defensive drivers,” he said.

Darin Bardal has been a driver ed instructor for 14 years in the West Fargo ND public schools. He utilizes a variety of resources to help make his students safer drivers, including collaborating with the West Fargo Police and the department’s school resource officers.  He brings in guest speakers to talk with his students about the challenges of peer pressure, to help them make smart decisions behind the wheel.  “Darin’s lessons and the use of outside resources make a lasting impact,” said Nate Schleicher, assistant principal at Sheyenne High School in West Fargo.

Stanley Blicharza driver ed instructor in Vermont for 20 years, began teaching driving while coaching the local American Legion’s baseball team, where he heard his players joke about reckless driving and getting speeding tickets. He knew he could make a difference, so he completed the requirements to become a driver ed teacher. “It was the best decision I ever made,” he recalls.  He became active in the Vermont Driver Training & Safety Education Association, where he served two terms as president. During his tenure, he helped convince the Vermont State Legislature not to move ahead with a plan to drop driver ed from the public schools. He is a strong proponent of parent involvement and has instituted mandatory parent-student meetings to gain parental buy-in to the importance of driver safety.  He would like to see stronger support for driver education from businesses, state lawmakers and insurance companies, which would help people realize the serious need for improved driver education and would also encourage more young people to consider getting into the field.

“These teachers who are being honored represent the best, who inspire others to be passionate and effective teachers of this important life skill,” said Rich Hanson, who heads the selection committee for ADTSEA. “We are proud to honor them as Teachers of Excellence.”

The Teacher Excellence Awards, given by The National Road Safety Foundation, are named in memory of Dr. Francis Kenel, a traffic safety engineer, former director of the AAA, author of driver ed teacher training materials and a mentor to countless driver education instructors.

The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education is the professional association that represents traffic safety educators throughout the United States.  As a national advocate for quality traffic safety education, the group creates and publishes policies and guidelines for driver ed and conducts conferences and workshops for teachers.  It was instrumental in creating the new driver education curriculum standard issued recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF), a non-profit organization, has supported ADTSEA’s Teacher Excellence Awards program for ten years.  For more than 55 years, NRSF has created driver education programs and materials for free distribution to teachers, police, traffic safety agencies, youth advocacy groups and others.  NRSF has programs on distraction, speed and aggression, impairment and drowsy driving.  The group also sponsors contests for teens in partnership with SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), FCCLA and Scholastic, as well as regional teen contests in partnership with auto shows in AtlantaChicagoLos Angeles and Washington, DC.  To view and download free programs and for more information, visit www.nrsf.org or www.teenlane.org.

Contact: David Reich, 212 573-6000, c: 914 325-9997, david@nrsf.org

SOURCE The National Road Safety Foundation

TXTUL8R at UVM Medical Center

TXT U L8R at UVM Medical Center, November 6

Texting while driving is one of the greatest hazards on the road. Every day, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in crashes involving distracted driving. That is 1.6 million car accidents and 330,000 injuries per year! That’s why the University of Vermont Medical Center and the Clinical Simulation Laboratory at the UVM College of Medicine created “TXT U L8R,” a unique program designed to discourage individuals from texting while driving. This program is beneficial for new drivers as well as their parents. Key elements include a presentation of a realistic trauma scenario and a testimonial from the victim of an accident caused by a teen driver who was texting.

Everyone is invited to the free TXT U L8R event on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 6:00pm-7:30pm in the Sullivan Classroom at the UVM Medical Center Education Pavilion. Parking is convenient in the UVM Medical Center Garage. The TXT U L8R presentation is especially powerful for young drivers.

TOT Burlington High School

Turn Off Texting at Burlington High School!

The students of Burlington High School got to learn the dangers of driving distracted first hand today!