Pineville State Farm agent Darin Morton says 3,115 teens died in car accidents in 2010, and 282,000 were hospitalized.Morton says death due to distracted driving is the No. 1 killer of teens nationwide; but a group of Butler High School students is hoping to change that in the Matthews area.Butler’s Dream Team, a group of 12 senior scholar-athletes who have pledged to remain alcohol, tobacco and drug free, are taking part in State Farm’s Celebrate My Ride program and encouraging others to do the same.The program is intended to help young drivers make wiser decisions behind the wheel, including putting away their phones. The Dream Team is working to spread that message to peers and is hoping to win money for their school at the same time.The Celebrate My Drive program invites folks to log on to its website during National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs through Oct. 23, and pledge to drive distraction-free.The top 10 schools with the most votes each will win $100,000. The top two vote-getters will win a concert by Kelly Clarkson.Schools from throughout Mecklenburg County are taking part in the program, including Hough High in Cornelius and Harding University, Hopewell, Olympic, Performance Learning Center, Phillip O. Berry, Rocky River and Vance, all in Charlotte.Butler is receiving support from all over, even the town of Matthews.Elected officials have signed on to the cause; on Monday, Mayor Jim Taylor signed a proclamation declaring Oct. 18-26 National Teen Driver Safety Week in Matthews.Dream Team members say some students don’t think twice about talking or texting while driving.“I see students all the time pulling out of Butler’s parking lot while talking on their phones or texting. We hope this message will reach all of Butler’s students and help them decide to not text and drive,” said Dream Team captain Taylor Crowell.Former Butler parent Tammy Garlock brought the program to the attention of Butler Dream Team teacher Janet Prevatte.Garlock has experienced the consequences of distracted driving firsthand: Her son, Brian Garlock, died in 2008 when he pulled in front of a car while looking at his phone. He had just finished his sophomore year at Butler.Garlock since has made it her mission to fight distracted driving. She’s told her story across the state and distributed thousands of pink-and-black bracelets in memory of Brian.“The fact of the matter is this… there is no telephone call or text message that is so important that it cannot wait until you get where you are going or until you can at least pull safely off the road to decide.“Please, please, don’t lose your life over the press of a button,” said Garlock.
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013
Safety program targets young drivers
Want to help? To cast a vote for Butler High School and commit to being a safer driver, go to www.celebratemydrive.com, click “join” in the upper left and follow the instructions. Butler’s ZIP code is 28105. Other schools in the Charlotte area also are competing; find them by entering their ZIP code. Vote once a day during Oct. 18-26. • For information about Garlock, visit her nonprofit, www.DyingChangesEverything.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at email@example.com.
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