(LEXINGTON, KY) - Two Kentucky high school students and their schools were honored at center court in front of thousands of basketball fans gathered to watch the semi-finals of the Boy’s Sweet SixteenÒ Tournament in Rupp Arena today.
The students, Bedford resident Jessy Williams, a senior at Trimble County High School, and Waddy resident Elisabeth Martin, a senior at Shelby County High School, were recognized for their efforts in promoting highway safety and seat belt use among teenagers. The awards were a part of the “Drive To Stay Alive” program sponsored by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and the Kentucky State Police.
As the top performer in the program, Williams received a $2,500 scholarship from the Kentucky Automobile Dealer’s Association. Trimble County High School received a $500 check from the Kentucky State Police Professional Association. This is the second year in a row that a student from Trimble County High School posted top scores in the program. Martin was declared runner up, finishing a close second.
“I commend these students and schools for their commitment to highway safety,” said Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence, secretary of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. “If we are to reduce the number of young people injured and killed each year on our roadways, we must provide practical training that can be used in daily driving situations. These efforts will help save lives.”
“Of the 964 people who died on Kentucky highways last year, 115 were teen-agers,” explained Kentucky State Police Commissioner Mark Miller. “Eighty-eight of those teen fatalities were not wearing seat belts. This indicates the value of programs such as Drive To Stay Alive. The use of seat belts is one of the best defenses in a collision.”
In September of 2004, Williams and Martin joined 21 other high school students from 21 different schools throughout the state for the five-day training program in Frankfort. Certified driving instructors from the Kentucky State Police Academy provided the training. The course included topics such as vehicle dynamics and skid control, safety belts and airbags, impaired driving, off-road recovery, evasive maneuvering, controlled braking, multiple turns and lane interchange. The students also received three days of hands-on driving instruction at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
After completing the course, the students were provided with educational materials and programs for use in presentations to their fellow students in their home school districts. They were also partnered with a trooper from one of KSP’s 16 posts throughout the state to assist them.
Williams and Trimble Co. High School ranked highest of all the students and schools participating in the program. They scored points based on the number of programs presented, seat belt pledges signed, media interviews and stories generated, increased use of seat belts observed on school grounds and other activities emphasizing highway safety.
“Jessy’s efforts were impressive,” reported her partner, Trooper Greg Larimore, public affairs officer at KSP Post 5 in Campbellsburg. Her activities included classroom presentations at her own school as well as others in the county, newspaper publicity and a Buckle Up contest.
“She also arranged for local businesses to display Buckle Up signs and produced a 15-minute video interview with a repeat DUI offender, which was played on the Trimble Co. High School television network,” he said. “In addition, she collected 1,116 seat belt use pledges in the high school and community.”
Martin’s efforts were notable as well, including informational booths set up at high school basketball games and at the Shelby County Festival of Lights. She collected 976 seat belt use pledges.
Williams is the daughter of Donald and Brenda Williams of Bedford, Ky. Martin is the daughter of James and Starla Martin of Waddy, Ky.
“The real value of the Drive To Stay Alive program is based on the concept that a message conveyed by a fellow student carries a more personal tone with other students and is therefore more effective,” explained Miller. “As this message spreads throughout the school system, the benefits should pay off in reduced teen crashes and more lives saved.”
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