LEXINGTON, Kentucky (October 21, 2014) — Ron Turley spent 27 years patrolling the highways of Kentucky as a state trooper. Ask him what the worst part of the job was, and he quickly answers: “Telling parents that their son or daughter was killed in an automobile crash – nothing comes close to that.”
Turley, now retired from Kentucky State Police (KSP), shares some of those horrific stories with teen drivers as an instructor in a defensive-driving program called Alive at 25. “It’s a fun and engaging class, but the students take it seriously,” he said. “They actually practice how to tell their friends to slow down, stop texting and driving, and not to drink and drive.”
Turley will teach the four-hour class today at Lafayette High School. Alive at 25 was developed by the National Safety Council (NSC) to take aim at the No. 1 killer of teens — motor-vehicle crashes. The course is free and is state certified, meaning it will count toward the classroom requirement for the Kentucky Graduated Driver Licensing Program.
The statewide Alive at 25 program was made possible by a two-year, $150,000 grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK). By 2015, the partnership between NSC, Toyota and the Kentucky State Police will reach more than 11,000 high school students. It is the second grant from Toyota toward Alive at 25. In 2004, the automaker gave $150,000 to help kick-start the program.
“The challenges facing teen drivers — including inexperience and distracted driving — are immense,” said Mike Price, vice president, administration, TMMK. “For Toyota, building safe, quality vehicles is only part of the process. We are taking a leadership role in the auto industry to promote safe driving, especially among teens.”
Kentucky currently has one of the highest teen-crash rates in the nation. Teen drivers only account for about 7 percent of Kentucky drivers, but are involved in about 18 percent of deadly crashes and more than 20 percent of all highway crashes, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
In the decade since Alive at 25 launched, the state’s death toll among drivers ages 16 to 19 dropped 46 percent. The numbers jumped by 20 percent in 2012, which led to the new Toyota grant to help KSP increase the number of instructors and programs across the state. Turley is one of those added instructors.
Since the expansion of the program, crash numbers are decreasing. KSP said in 2013 crashes involving teens dropped 7 percent, deadly crashes decreased 12 percent, and injury crashes were down 7 percent. Kentucky is the first to offer the program state-wide and unique in that all 32 certified instructors are KSP employees.
“Thanks to the partnership with Toyota and the National Safety Council, Kentucky teens are learning the dangers of distracted driving and other critical safety elements of driving,” Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer said. “Alive at 25 makes the roads safer for us all.”
The classes include interactive media segments, workbook exercises, and role-playing. Discussions allow students to develop convictions and strategies to keep them safe, and explore how changing driving behavior makes personal, legal and financial sense.
“The Alive at 25 program is unique in that it goes beyond teaching basic driving skills, and explains to teens why crashes happen and how to prevent them,” said John Ulczycki, vice president of strategic initiatives at NSC. “These classes speak teens’ language. The material is laid out in a way that makes sense to them. By the end, they feel empowered to be a safer driver and a better passenger.”
Alive at 25 programs are being booked through KSP at high schools across the Commonwealth. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet certified the Alive at 25 curriculum for inclusion in the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing Program – a three-step licensing system that has proven to reduce teen-related crashes.
“In the Fayette County Public Schools we are committed to college, career and citizenship readiness for all of our students. We want our students to be successful in life as well as school,” said Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton. “We’re grateful to community partners like Toyota and the Kentucky State Police for supporting citizenship readiness by helping our students become safe drivers.”
“When it comes to young or inexperienced drivers, we have made a lot of progress over the past ten years,” said Bill Bell, executive director, Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS). “However, we still have some work ahead of us to mirror the national decreases in younger driver crashes and fatalities. At KOHS, we believe that broad partnerships are necessary to achieve the goals we all have in reducing crashes, especially for younger drivers.”
About Toyota Kentucky
Toyota’s largest vehicle manufacturing plant in North America, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (Toyota Kentucky) produced the first American-made Camry in 1988. More than 10 million vehicles have rolled off Toyota’s assembly line in Georgetown, where full-time employment is around 7,000 people and investment tops $5.9 billion. In addition to the Camry, America’s best-selling car, Toyota Kentucky manufactures the Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Venza, and four-cylinder and V-6 engines. In late 2015, the plant will begin production of the first U.S.-assembled Lexus, adding 50,000 vehicles to its current annual capacity of 500,000 (engine production capacity: 600,000). More than $45 million has been donated by Toyota’s Kentucky plant to non-profit organizations throughout the state. For more information about Toyota Kentucky, visit toyotaky.com.
About the National Safety Council
Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.
About Kentucky State Police
The Kentucky State Police is the leading law enforcement agency for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Established in 1948, it promotes public safety through service, integrity and professionalism, utilizing partnerships to prevent, reduce and deter crime and fear of crime; enhance highway safety through education and enforcement; and safeguard property and protect individual rights. The agency operates 16 regional posts and six forensic labs throughout the state. Its duties include executive, legislative and facilities security, traffic enforcement and road patrols, commercial vehicle enforcement, accident investigation and reconstruction, cadet training, aircraft operations, tactical communications, driver testing, highway safety, criminal identification and records, special response teams, canine operations, cannabis suppression and criminal intelligence. Its investigative duties include child abuse and arson cases, environmental crime, illegal drug trafficking and organized crime including white-collar, electronic and government-related crime. As part of these activities, KSP maintains close contact with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for increased effectiveness and efficiency. The Kentucky State Police is an equal opportunity employer. Its color is gray and its gender is trooper.
About KYTC Office of Highway Safety
The mission of the Office of Highway Safety is, through public and private partnerships, achieve the most improved and sustainable downward trend in reducing Kentucky’s highway fatalities and injuries.The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety is one aspect of safety within the Transportation Cabinet. The office prepares the annual Highway Safety Plan that describes the state's highway safety problems, identifies countermeasures; provide qualitative and quantitative measurements to determine goals and objectives. The majority of our focus is to address federally designated traffic safety priority areas. These national priority areas include: Occupant Protection and Seat Belt Safety Education; Impaired Driving Countermeasures and Education; Distracted Driving Education and Counter Measures; Traffic Records; Motorcycle Safety; Mature Drivers; Pedestrian Safety; and Child Passenger Safety.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.