When young adults get behind the wheel of a car, they seldom think about the consequences. Yet research shows that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 16 and 24.
Last week, Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, arrived in East Syracuse to honor DeWitt Police Chief Eugene Conway and Jamesville-DeWitt Superintendent Alice Kendrick in a special awards ceremony that acknowledged their efforts in promoting safe travel to young adults. The DeWitt Police Department and the J-D School District were the first in the country to pilot "Alive at 25" -- a National Safety Council teen driver program that has become a model for the rest of the nation.
"The program was first brought to our attention by Irene Scruton, who, in addition to being a [DeWitt town councilor] is also the president of the local chapter of the safety council," Conway said.
The police department then presented the idea to J-D high school officials in response to continual neighborhood complaints they were receiving about students speeding and disregarding stop signs while driving to and from school. Officials embraced the program.
"Alive at 25" teaches young drivers and passengers to take control of situations by changing their attitudes and taking responsibilities for their own conduct. In addition, the four-hour course, which began in 2005, is a requirement for all students wishing to obtain a parking permit at the high school.
"It has been an extremely effective motivator," Kendrick said.
Since the program's start three years ago, almost 700 students have completed the course, which is offered at no cost to the students through funding assistance from local agencies of State Farm Insurance.
DeWitt Investigator John Anton and Officer Randy Andrews teach the "Alive at 25," having completed a two-day instructor certification class. Anton also became a trainer for other officers wishing to educate.