St. Al students help launch new statewide safe driving initiative for teens

Published 8:47 am Wednesday, November 22, 2023

On Nov. 14 and 15, high school students of Vicksburg’s St. Aloysius Catholic School learned two crucial factors of safe driving: Buckling Up and Putting the Phone Down.

Gabi Jones, Children and Youth Program Coordinator, launched Mississippi Safety Services’ brand new safe driving course for teenagers in Vicksburg.

Student Government Association members first took a course in safe driving practices, learning about Mississippi’s high traffic death rate and two simple ways to prevent casualties on the road: buckling up and putting down the phone.

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After the class, the SGA hosted an informative booth at the school, teaching the newly-learned material to peers and encouraging friends to drive safely.

“You should always buckle up even if you’re not driving because you don’t want to let someone else’s bad decision decide your life,” said Walker Lambiotte, president of St. Aloysius’ SGA.

“The Student Government Association took charge of the peer presentations, drawing fellow students in and leading them in taking the pledge to drive safe,” Jones said. “Leaders eagerly shared the easy-to remember statistic: On average, it takes 4 seconds to read a text message. At 55 mph, that’s 120 yards. In just 4 seconds, that’s like driving the length of a football field–end zones included – with your eyes closed.”

Jones said the students explained in passionate detail the dangers of riding unbuckled and shared personal testimonies of friends and family saved by seat belts. In 2022, 15,000 lives were saved by seat belts – nearly all students interviewed had a friend or family member injured by improper seat belt usage or saved by a seat belt.

Student Christian Harris proclaimed, “I get secondhand embarrassment if you don’t buckle up.”

SGA vice president Gracie Griggs said the entire program was “very eye opening and very beneficial to us as teens. I think everyone should pledge to drive safer.”

More than 100 students stopped by to listen to their peers and pledged to buckle up and put the phone down. “Even the junior high students stopped by, eager to pledge years in advance,” Jones said. “Young drivers of St. Aloysius Catholic School have become ambassadors in their community for safe driving.”