(SPARTA, Ky.) - NASCAR Busch Series driver Stan Boyd, of the Race Kentucky Motorsports team, met with 21 high school students from across the state today at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. His message was clear and simple: seat belts save lives.
Addressing the students, who were participating in the Kentucky State Police "Drive To Stay Alive" training program, Boyd pointed out that seat belts play a vital role in safety, on the street or on the track. "NASCAR has had a long-time commitment to safety," he noted, "and seat belts are a cornerstone of that commitment."
Seat belts are a basic piece of safety equipment in motorsports, Boyd explained. "They give you a protective edge that increases your chances of surviving a collision. I don’t know of any driver who doesn’t buckle up before hitting the track," he said. "I wouldn’t drive any vehicle without using a seat belt and neither should you. It’s a precaution you can’t afford to ignore."
Col. Rick Stiltner, deputy commissioner of the Kentucky State Police reinforced Boyd’s comments with some grim statistics, telling the students that more than 25,700 teens were involved in crashes on Kentucky roadways during 2003. "While making up only 6 percent of the state’s licensed drivers, teens aged 16-19 represented 20 percent of all collisions, 21 percent of all injury collisions and 14 percent of all fatal collisions in the state," he said.
The students attending the "Drive To Stay Alive" program represent schools located in counties determined by KSP to be at high risk for teenage drivers. They include: Bath Co. High, Breathitt Co. High, Caverna High, Calloway Co. High, Christian Academy of Lawrenceburg, Christian Co. High, Clinton Co. High, Gallatin Co. High, Harrison Co. High, Johnson Central High, Madison Southern High, McCreary Central High, Nicholas Co. High, Owen Co. High, Providence High, Pulaski Co. High, Somerset High, Shelby Co. High, Trimble Co. High, Walton-Verona High and Williamstown High.
According to KSP Commissioner Mark Miller, the students are receiving much of the same on-track training that cadets receive at the Kentucky State Police Academy. Taught by KSP driving instructors, the students are learning to recognize the most common factors leading to fatal crashes. The curriculum features topics such as vehicle dynamics and skid control, safety belts and airbags, impaired driving, off-road recovery, evasive maneuver, controlled braking, multiple turns and lane interchange.
"This program is the only one of its kind in Kentucky and it is setting the pace for others across the country," said Miller. "I commend each of these student leaders for participating in this life-saving program and I recognize their respective schools districts for realizing the importance of the ‘Drive To Stay Alive’ program."
Col. Stiltner stated that the true benefits of the training begin after the students complete the course and return to their individual schools. "Each student is partnered with an experienced Kentucky State Police trooper to spread the message to their fellow students," he explained. "The real value of the program is based on the concept that a message conveyed by a student carries a more personal tone with other students and is therefore more effective."
"This program provides practical instruction that will enhance the skills and sensitivities of Kentucky’s teen drivers," Stiltner said. "Once it spreads throughout the school system, the benefits should pay off in reduced teen crashes and more lives saved."