Handshake at Heritage

Heritage Toyota Supports Turn Off Texting Program for High School Drivers

Heritage Toyota is supporting a statewide young driver highway safety program with the use and maintenance of a Toyota truck. The Youth Safety Council of Vermont presents the Turn Off Texting workshop in high schools across the state, giving young driving students a safe first-hand experience of the dangers of driving while distracted. The program uses a trailer; this sponsorship of a 2018 Toyota Tundra Certified Used Vehicle pickup truck will make it possible for the 2019 program season.

The Turn Off Texting demonstration raises awareness about the dangers of distracted driving by putting students behind the wheel of a golf cart to navigate a course of cones while texting. It’s an effective experience for participants, and the demonstration is provided free of charge in Vermont through a grant from the Vermont Office of Highway Safety, Behavioral Safety Unit and support from generous sponsors like Heritage Toyota, and AT&T. Turn Off Texting was created by the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles in 2009 and has been presented by the Youth Safety Council of Vermont since 2011.

Heritage Toyota, based in South Burlington, is committed to supporting highway safety initiatives. The ‘H-Team’  produced several video public service announcements during a campus-wide safety fair at Mt. Abraham Union High School in 2017. The Youth Safety Council of Vermont worked with Mt. Abe to create a how-to resource for other schools that includes the Heritage-produced videos,  www.yscvt.org/safetyfairs/guide/.

“The sponsorship highlights how positive-minded Vermonters are when facing the challenge of fostering safe attitudes among young drivers. Heritage Toyota’s collaborative spirit and willingness to invest in the wellbeing of young Vermonters is evident in their support of this program,” says James Lockridge, Executive Director of the Youth Safety Council of Vermont. “From Franklin County to Bennington County, Heritage Toyota will help us foster a culture of safety with each of Vermont’s newest generation of drivers.”

Ryan Denecker, General Manger of Heritage Toyota, says, “The work that the Youth Safety Council of Vermont does is invaluable. Creating awareness for the young people of Vermont can either happen with a real life tragedy, or through proactive efforts with an organization such as YSCVT. Heritage is grateful for the opportunity to assist in this mission, and support such an important campaign. I am proud to partner with Jim and his team to successfully create awareness for the YSCVT mission. Keeping our kids, and others safe on the road is our joint goal, and one that is important to everyone here at Heritage Toyota.”

The new YSCVT Tundra

About the Youth Safety Council of Vermont: The YSCVT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing teen car crashes and making positive changes in young driver safety culture. Contact James Lockridge, director@yscvt.org, (802) 881-9050, www.yscvt.org

About Heritage Toyota: Heritage Toyota, home of the H-Team, has been serving the Vermont community for 25 years, and now employs over 100 people at their Shelburne Road location. Working with many community partners and non-profits to highlight the great things happening in our own neighborhoods, Heritage Toyota is proud to support community causes such as road safety, animal welfare, human rights, child development, and the fight against hunger and poverty. Known for sales and full service of the Toyota brand, they are committed to creating the best quality and most transparent customer experiences for each customer, every time. For more information, contact Bethany Sargent, Marketing Manager at bsargent@heritagevt.com or (802) 865-8128, or visit heritagetoyotacars.com.

Image at top: James Lockridge, YSCVT Executive Director, is handed keys to the 2018 Toyota Tundra by Michael Thomson, Sales and Leasing Consultant. Photo by Tyler Bradley, Videographer, Heritage Automotive Group.

2019 Turn Off Texting Trailer Graphics Update!

The Turn Off Texting golf cart trailer got a graphic update at Yipes! Stripes in Williston, naming 2019-2020 sponsors! The Turn Off Texting Program is made possible with support from program sponsors The Vermont Office of Highway Safety, Behavioral Safety Unit; Vermont Association of Domestic Property & Casualty Insurance Companies; AT&T; Heritage Toyota; Vermont Independent Insurance Agents Association; Co-operative Insurance Companies, and with philanthropic contributions from The Oakland Foundation, International Paper, and The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation.

TOT Trailer at Yipes! Stripes

TOT Trailer at Yipes! Stripes

Thank you Madison Noyes and Yipes! Stripes for the photos and video!

Peoples Choice PSA Winner

#802phonesdown!headsup! PSA Video Contest People’s Choice Award Winner: Kaylee Green!

The Youth Safety Council is happy to share word of the winner of the #802phonesdown!headsup! PSA video contest People’s Choice Award: Kaylee Green, a student at Northwest Technical Center in St. Albans! The contest welcomed video public service announcement entries from high school students across Vermont, with messages that would help improve high school driving habits. Kaylee’s entry received a massive 488 votes in the People’s Choice Award category. Kaylee will take home a prize of $500 at the May 10 award ceremony at the Vermont State House; the public is invited! Info and RSVP at Eventbrite.

Kaylee’s winning video PSA:


802!PhonesDown Voting!

Vote for the #802phonesdown!headsup! People’s Choice Award Winner: High School Student Videos Promote Highway Safety

Voting is now open for the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance #802phonesdown!headsup! People’s Choice Award Winner! Help recognize a high school filmmaker for their contribution to Vermont’s highway safety with their video PSA (public service announcement) about the dangers of distracted driving.

The award is part of the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance second annual Public Safety Announcement (PSA) award contest for Vermont high school students, designed to change driving habits. Sponsors include AAA Northern New England, Co-Operative Insurance Companies, (sponsor for first place award) Consultant on Police Services, Midstate Dodge, and Yankee Driving School, (sponsor for third place award. The Youth Safety Council of Vermont is proudly sponsoring the People’s Choice Award!

The contest winners will be awarded at the Vermont State House on Friday May 10, and the People’s Choice Winner will take home $500! Vote here!

Vote here!

Turn Off Texting Survey Data, 2017-2018

Turn Off Texting (TOT) is a presentation that helps young drivers understand the dangers of distracted driving through a personal, first-hand, real-world experience. It’s an educational countermeasure that helps improve the safety culture of each new generation of Vermont drivers. Funding for the program depends on demonstrating that it helps improve perceptions and attitudes about highway safety. The Council uses surveys to gather this data, described below. 

During the 2017-2018 Turn Off Texting (TOT) season, the presentation was scheduled at 62 sites in 11 counties across Vermont with a total of 1,347 students participating.

At each TOT presentation, students drove a golf cart through a course of traffic cones, then drove through the course a second time while texting phrases provided by the presenter. Most students completed a survey before and after they participated. The survey was created with support from the UVM Transportation Research Center and helped the Council understand whether students experienced a change in attitude about safety resulting from their TOT experience.

Based on a sample of 196 surveys, students on the first run of the course had an average of 1.65 errors (STD 1.43). An error was counted when they hit a traffic cone, swerved out of their lane, ran a stop sign, or committed similar virtual errors in the driving simulator that substituted for the golf cart during winter months. On the second run when students had to text while driving, the average number of errors increased to 6.22 (STD 3.54). The range of errors for the second run was four times larger than it had been for the first, giving the the students a first-hand impression of the dangers of driving while distracted.

When the Council examined a sample of 215 unpaired pre- and post-presentation surveys, 97.67% ranked texting or emailing while driving as unacceptable or somewhat unacceptable to begin with. Even with this initial high measurement of agreement among students that texting or emailing while driving is not acceptable, a sampling of data from 207 paired pre- and post-presentation surveys revealed that there was an 8.21% positive change in student perception that resulted from their TOT experience. Additionally, there was a positive change of 20.77% in response to the question of whether students would text or e-mail while driving in the future. In fact, out of the 54 (26.09%) students whose answers changed between the pre- and post-presentation surveys, 79.63% marked that they were less likely to text and drive in the future.

A majority of students (84.5%) answered that they found the Turn Off Texting program useful.

Vermont Student Among Winners of AT&T Emerging Filmmaker Awards

Congratulations to Maia Vota from Burlington, the Youth Finalist in the 5th Edition of the AT&T Emerging Filmmaker Awards! Carolyn Billings, Assistant Vice President Creator & Developer Marketing at AT&T Mobility and Entertainment, says, “Through the AT&T Film Awards, we seek to honor aspiring creators with imaginative, undiscovered short films. Amplifying the voices of these rising creators and supporting them with resources is a true privilege. I’m blown away at how they bring together creativity, experience and technology to tell great stories.” Here’s Maia’s entry, “A Realistic Look at Distracted Driving.” Find other winners at https://about.att.com/story/2019/att_film_awards_2018_winners.html

2018 Video Contest Finalists

#802phonesdown!headsup! High School Video PSA Contest Now Open For Entries!

Vermont High School Students: Create a video public service announcement that encourages new drivers — your friends and peers — to avoid distracted driving, specifically texting while driving, and enter it in the Vermont Highway Alliance’s second annual #802phonesdown!headsup! High School Video PSA Contest! The prizes are worth the effort: First Prize is $750; Second Prize is $500; Third Prize is $250 and the Peoples’ Choice Prize is $500! Entries are being accepted until April 1 — all the contest info is at http://vermonthighwaysafety.org/psa-video-contest/ You can help make Vermont highways — and your friends — safer, and show off your producer/filmmaker skills, too!

The contest is sponsored by AAA Northern New England, Co-Operative Insurance Companies, (sponsor for first place award) Consultant on Police Services, Midstate Dodge, and Yankee Driving School, (sponsor for third place award). The Youth Safety Council of Vermont is proud to sponsor the Peoples’ Choice Award.

Here are the award winning videos from last year’s contest:

1st Place Winner 2018, $750 : Andrew Malshuk, Bellows Falls Union High School

2nd Place Winner 2018, $500: Tanner Bischofberger, River Valley Technical Center

3rd Place Winner 2018, $250: Isaak Olson, Essex High School


*CANCELED* TXT U L8R Program at UVM Medical Center Educates About Distracted Driving Dec. 5!

***UPDATE NOVEMBER 29: This event has been canceled.***

To promote teen driver safety, UVM Medical Center is offering the Txt U L8R program to students and their families. Everyone is encouraged to participate — especially you! The program description is below. Please email Chrissy Keating with any questions. Funding is available to assist with transportation costs.

Texting while driving has quickly become one of the greatest hazards on the road. It causes 1.6 million car crashes and 330,000 injuries per year, and approximately seven teen deaths every single day. That’s why the UVM 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. Key elements include a demonstration of an advanced driving simulator, presentation of a realistic trauma scenario, a testimonial from the victim of an accident caused by a teen driver who was texting, and a demonstration of several smartphone apps designed to prevent texting while driving.

WHEN Wednesday, December 5th, 6-7:30PM
WHERE UVM Medical Center, UVM Medical Education Pavilion, Sullivan Classroom
For more information and to reserve your spot, please contact: Christina.Keating@uvmhealth.org

James Carter receives award

Youth Safety Council at the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Annual Meeting

The Youth Safety Council of Vermont was represented at the 2018 Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Annual Meeting by Board President Lindsay Townsend and Executive Director James Lockridge. The conference was held October 22, 2018 at Jay Peak and covered a variety of topics, including the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrator’s “Road to Zero” coalition; a medical study on assessing cognitive impairment to ensure safe driving; Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery’s impaired driving data integration; and a presentation on drugged driving and the legalization of marijuana in Vermont by Williston Police Department Chief Patrick Foley. The Vermont Agency of Transportation announced the recipients of the 2018 Highway Safety Awards, which included former YSCVT Board Member Lt. Garry Scott!

  • The Ruby Rainault Occupant Protection Award was presented to Michael Tarbell of Rutland County Sheriff, in recognition of his commitment to highway safety through education and enforcement of our occupant protection laws.
  • The Impaired Driving Prevention and Enforcement Award was presented to John F. Campbell, Esq., in recognition of his efforts and commitment to strengthening the ability to prosecute and enforce Vermont’s impaired driving laws.
  • The Drug Recognition Expert Award was presented to Sr. Trooper Jay Riggen of the Vermont State Police, in recognition of his efforts and commitment serving as a DRE in Vermont.
  • The Fletcher Brush Educational Outreach Award was presented to Driver’s Education Instructor James Carter, in recognition of his dedication and commitment to highway safety through educational outreach and messaging to the road users in our State.
  • The Sergeant Michael Johnson Award was presented to Lt. Garry Scott of the Vermont State Police, in recognition of his tireless dedication and commitment to making Vermont’s roadways safer for all users.
  • The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Engineering Award was presented to Joe Kelly, Marcos Miller, Christopher Mercon, and Tyler Guazzoni, all of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, in recognition of their application and promotion of traffic control devices to foster and advance Vermont’s highway safety priorities.
  • The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Emergency Medical Services Award was presented to Dan Batsie, Chief of Vermont Emergency Medical Services, Vermont Department of Health in recognition of his work to improve statewide emergency medical services that foster and advance Vermont’s highway safety priorities.
  • The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance Media & Marketing Award was presented to Ken Millman, Founder and Creative Director of Sp!ke Advertising in recognition of his creative marketing projects that foster and advance Vermont’s highway safety priorities.


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UVM Public Health Project Students

UVM & YSCVT Developing New Driver Attitude Survey

The Youth Safety Council is working with UVM students to create a pilot ‘new driver attitude survey’ that will generate data about our state’s youngest drivers’ perspectives on safety. Public Health Projects are a required course incorporated in the Vermont Integrated Curriculum, which teaches students to apply the principles and science of public health while working to improve the health of the community, especially through prevention. Through exposure to the kinds of public health challenges they will face in their future careers, the overall goal is that students will become better physicians.

The survey will help the Youth Safety Council of Vermont acquire a basic understanding of the work that needs to be done to create a safe driving culture in the newest generation of Vermont drivers. There is minimal data about new driver attitudes (toward driving distracted, etc.) in the state — the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey provides sparse information, and the Governor’s Highway Safety (GHSP) Attitude Surveys record responses only from people who are age 18 and over. The UVM students will be helping the state’s safety sector improve its data-informed strategies.

The students’ work could help guide future safe driving initiatives by building from the pilot survey of Chittenden County high school students toward a goal of a statewide student/new driver survey in Vermont. This work could help the Governor’s Highway Safety Program secure future supports for youth driver safety initiatives in the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, and the data would help organizations like YSCVT with independent development of safety education programs like the Turn Off Texting demonstration.

Public Health Projects respond to health needs identified by local community agencies. 16 projects are completed each fall by medical student groups working in partnership with community agencies like YSCVT, American Red Cross, and the Vermont Department of Health. Students are mentored by both College of Medicine faculty and community agency mentors. With the YSCVT, students will help the state’s collaborative highway safety organizations better understand how to foster safe-mindedness in each new generation of drivers and improve Vermont’s culture of highway safety.

Dr. Wendy Davis & Ashton Hideki

Dr. Wendy Davis & Ashton Hideki.

The students have been researching survey methods throughout New England’s highway safety programs; have developed a prototype survey, and are reaching out to driver educators in Chittenden County to issue the survey in alignment with the privacy protocols expected by the UVM Larner College of Medicine. Data from the survey, the rationale behind it, and suggestions for carrying the survey forward to a statewide audience will be presented in January, 2019.

Students developing this Public Health Project are Samantha Jo Bissonette; Megan Garrido, Nicholas Haslett, Ashton Hideki; William Tyler Prince; Davina Tolbert; and Catherine Westbom. Public Health Projects are directed by Jan K. Carney, M.D., M.P.H., UVM Associate Dean for Public Health. These projects were first implemented in 2004, in partnership with the United Way of Chittenden County Volunteer Center.