Georgia students from Pepperell High School, in Lindale, were recently recognized for their work in the area of teen traffic safety within their community. The Georgia Trauma Foundation invited Eva Ellenburg, a Teen Advisory Board member with the nationally recognized peer-to-peer Teens in the Driver Seat program and Kaitlyn Morgan, both sophomores at Pepperell, to the Feb. 13 Trauma Awareness Day luncheon to speak about their interest and activities to encourage their classmates to drive safely.

“One of the main reasons we are doing what we are doing is we want to impact the community. We want to help them become better drivers, because I just got my learner’s and Kaitlyn is about to get her driver’s license. We want to make the road safer not only for us, but for the people we love and care about in our community,” Eva said during her presentation. She went on to say, “We want to make a difference. We want to impact our friends and classmates a bit more than our parents and teachers would.”

“These students and teens across the state of Georgia are helping to make roads safer for everyone,” said Beverly Losman, director of Safe Kids Georgia. “They are embracing this important cause and encouraging their peers to avoid distractions and other risky driving behavior that we know contribute to teen car crashes. We, as adults, can give teens the tools they need to tackle this issue, but we must inspire them to create and deliver the messaging. Teens in the Driver Seat does that.”

Teens in the Driver Seat is a peer-to-peer safety program in which middle school and high school students are tasked with educating other teens about best practices to reduce the chance of driving accidents. In 2016, Safe Kids Georgia and the Georgia Department of Transportation began partnering with the program’s directors to support the program in Georgia schools.

Car accidents account for nearly half of all teen deaths in America each year. According to the CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, in 2015, there were more than 150 fatalities due to motor vehicle collisions involving people age 19 and younger in Georgia. The program’s goal is to decrease that number through better education and by rewarding teens who help to help generate awareness among their peers.