|Juanita Elliott, David Hall, Georgina Nowak, Debbie Marvidikis and Ruby Hall got busy with stencils and paint this weekend spreading a safety message. "Buckle Up."|
A number businesses and community agencies in Carbon County are sporting a new message in driveways targeted at keeping area teens safer on the roads.
A crew of four volunteers lead by Georgina Nowak and Debbie Marvidikis, injury prevention specialists with the Southeastern Utah Health District, toted paint and giant stencils around town last weekend leaving behind a gleaming white reminder to buckle up.
"We were pumped to get this message across to Carbon County teens," said Marvidikis.
The first driveways to receive a sign were Kentucky Fried Chicken, Castleview Hospital, the Utah Department of Transportation and Tire King.
"We want to get the stencils in the driveways where teens will see them most," said Nowak.
While the effort got a pretty good start during the weekend, the leaders said they hope the campaign will catch on and other businesses or agencies will call to get signs.
In addition to the actual stenciling, the effort is meant to involve county teens in the overall project, according to Nowak.
"This is a locally coordinated project and we want to get more youth involved," said the health district representative.
Nowak and Marvidikis pointed out that a push for teens to use seatbelts can be especially important in hometowns.
"Teenagers often have a rural mentality around safety," said Nowak. "They think that all the accidents happen on the state highways where there's a lot of traffic. They get too comfortable."
Marvidikis agreed, noting that teens need to realize most accidents happen within 40 miles of home.
Teenagers also need the extra safety of using seatbelts because they don't have veteran driving skills, according to Nowak and Marvidikis.
Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Tana Allred of the agency's public information and education office affirmed that teens are more fragile because of the lack of experience behind the wheel.
"They just haven't been on the roads long enough and they get in more accidents," said Allred.
The UHP trooper recounted a couple of traffic accidents she had responded to that reaffirmed the importance of wearing seatbelts all the time.
"I went to two rollovers and, if they hadn't been buckled in, they likely would have been killed," said Allred.
Accident statistics paint a strong picture of the role seatbelts play in saving young lives, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.
In 2005, 61 percent of teenagers killed in crashes were not buckled up and teens who don't use their seatbelts are 36 times more likely to die in an accident than their belted counterparts.
The department's statistics emphasize Allred's assertion that belts make a major difference.In 2005, single vehicle rollovers were the major cause of fatal crashes for teenagers.
While teen drivers represented little more than 7 percent of licensed drivers in Utah, in 2005, they were involved in more than 26 percent of all motor vehicle crashes, the public safety department reported.
In Carbon County, the same year, more than 24 percent of total crashes involved teenagers and in injury accidents the number jumped to 33 percent. For Emery County the total number of crashes involving teen drivers was almost 17 percent and for injury accidents the number was 16 percent.
However, in terms of fatal crashes there was a wide discrepancy between the counties. Of the three fatal accidents in Carbon County in 2005 the statistics show 0 percent of teen drivers and for Emery County 33 percent of the six fatal crashes involved teen drivers.
In addition, to numbers of teen drivers involved in crashes overall, the public safety department's report "Teenage-Driver Crashes 2005" pinpoints days of the week and even times of the day that young drivers are most likely to get into an accident.
The most dangerous overall time period for Utah's teen drivers is Fridays between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. For fatalities it appears Mondays around 4 p.m. is the worst time.
Anyone interested in having their driveway exit stenciled should call Georgina Nowak or Debbie Marvidikis at 637-3671.