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!

TOT in Williston

Turn Off Texting on July 2: West Rutland and Williston!

The students of West Rutland High School and Associates in Driving in Williston experienced the Turn Off Texting demonstration today! Photos: Above, Williston; below, West Rutland.

TOT in West Rutland

Photos from the AAA Walk to End Distracted Driving, June 7

AAA Walk for Distracted Driving

AAA Northern New England in conjunction with the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance and Project RoadSafe hosted the “AAA Walk to End Distracted Driving” at the Vermont State House on Friday, June 7. Thank you Aimee Ziter and Debra Ricker for the photos!

AAA Walk for Distracted Driving, Speaker at podium.

Local Motion & Ski Rack Create Safety Videos for Bicyclists

Local Motion and Ski Rack teamed up to create safety videos for bicyclists, and they help remind everyone that road users include vulnerable users on bikes, and the special concerns they have. Visit the page of videos, and see below for the episode about safely interacting with public busses.



TOT at Essex High School

Turn Off Texting at Essex High School: Safety Week!

The students of Essex High School experienced Turn Off Texting with Driver Educator Barbara Brody yesterday, during a week dedicated to highway safety education.


Thank You, Caledonian Record!

The Caledonian Record helped show Turn Off Texting in action to the Lyndonville community. The Youth Safety Council of Vermont sends thanks!