Front: Cassandra Love – State SAFE Coordinator, Jamie Brace – CHS NHS Advisor (Standing) SAFE Committee Members:  Maria Bustamante, Sophie McCall, Mariah Gilbreath, Kenlee Walker, Payton Morland and NHS SAFE Director – Danielle Culp.

Claremore NHS students attended the annual SAFE Summit in Oklahoma City. Sponsored by AAA, State Farm, and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, students were educated on the dangers of distracted driving, driving under the influence, and many other issues surrounding driving safety. Students were even allowed to gain driving experience on the OSU-OKC Precision Driving Course taught by OKC Highway Safety Instructors.  SAFE is a teen-run, peer-to-peer program focusing on increasing teen restraint compliance through education, positive rewards and enforcement. It is designed to bring awareness to the importance of wearing a seatbelt, therefore reducing the number of motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. The goal of the summit is to train the trainers; giving them tools to take back to their schools to use to motivate other students to practice safe driving choices.

At the summit, Claremore’s NHS was awarded the “Most Innovative School” award. Throughout the school year, the chapter has put on a number of initiatives to educate their school on the benefits of safe driving. Included in these initiatives, are the SAFE Donut Dash, Seatbelt Surveys, SAFE Christmas tree with driving fatalities statistics, Egg-cited for Seatbelts Easter Egg hunt, Snapchat filter during the seatbelt enforcement window and the SAFE pledge drives.  During the SAFE Pledge Drives monthly 10 winners are awarded $25 gift certificates funded by the Project SAFE grant.

Statistics show that young people between the ages of 15 and 25 have the highest rate of automobile related deaths. And with more cars on the road and more things to distract those behind the wheel, teenage drivers are particularly at risk of being in an accident that could tragically end or alter their lives or the lives of others forever. Statistics say that over 50% people participate in social media on their smartphone while driving.  This is why the National Honor Society feels this service project is so important to invest their time in promoting.

“As odd as it might seem, my favorite memory as SAFE coordinator is when we did our baseline survey back in October. It was cold and raining and we were miserable, but it it was rewarding to me as a leader to see everyone persevere through those conditions in order to get an important job done.” SAFE advisor Danielle Culp explains, “The program has spread awareness about impaired driving, avoiding distractions, as well as how important wearing seatbelts are in saving lives.”

CHS was one of ten high schools chosen to participate in this year’s summit.  There were 6 students in attendance from Claremore’s NHS: SAFE Director Danielle Culp, Kenlee Walker, Payton Moreland, Sophie McCall, Maria Bustamante, and Mariah Gilbreath. They were accompanied by NHS Advisor, Jamie Brace.