Teen Driver Safety Initiative Would Help Protect Teen Drivers and Their Passengers
Horn, an Independence-based lawyer and driving safety advocate, is urging school districts in Lafayette County to implement Drive By Example, a driving safety communications program that influences teen drivers to adopt safe driving habits and behaviors that protect themselves, their passengers, and others on the roadway.
Given the major interstate that passes through Lafayette County, coupled with the state highway traffic and county/rural roads when there is no room for error, Drive By Example would be a perfect fit for Lexington High School in Lexington, Missouri, in addition to other Lafayette County high schools, including:
- Santa Fe High School in Alma, Mo.
- Concordia High School in Concordia, Mo.
- Higginsville Senior High School in Higginsville, Mo.
- Odessa High School in Odessa, Mo.
Ms. Desirae Holder, a 16-year-old student at Lexington High School, was killed when the car she was in was broadsided by a passing motorist on Highway 24 right outside Lexington High School on December 11, 2019.
The violent broadside collision, which also caused serious injuries to at least the other teen passengers, resulted in Ms. Holder and two other teenage passengers being ejected from the vehicle. Officials say they were not wearing their seatbelts.
The driver of the vehicle was a 16-year-old boy who had just received his driverâ€™s license about a month before the accident. While it is hard to say with certainty why he pulled out onto Highway 24 into the path of the oncoming car,Â his lack of driving experience and inattentiveness likely contributed to his decision to pull into the roadway. Although it was the type of mistake that any teen driver could make, the consequences in this instance were tragic and continue to bring heartache to the entire community.
Attorney Doug Horn, a crash lawyer who represents persons who have been seriously injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents, has dealt with these types of cases throughout his 30-year legal career. Since 2009, Horn has dedicated a substantial portion of his work to advancing driver safety, including distracted driving prevention, teen driver protection, and traffic fatality reduction.
Protecting Teenagers on Missouri Roads
It isnâ€™t any surprise that teens are among the most vulnerable drivers on the road. What may surprise many adults is that formal driverâ€™s education is no longer a requirement for a 16-year-old driver to get their driverâ€™s license in Missouri.
While it may not be feasible, given the costs and the other educational priorities, to actually teach teens the mechanics of driving on the road, Horn believes that we can teach young drivers how to take a safe approach to driving. His program, Drive By Example, aims to fill the void left by the absence of traditional driverâ€™s education.
â€œThe first thing I emphasize to new drivers and their parents is that all drivers owe the highest degree of care while in the operation of their vehicle. When you think about it, that is a high standard. Drive By Example is effective because we teach teens, and equip parents, on a safe driving approach so that they can always be exercising the highest degree of care when behind the wheel.â€
Drive By Example
To strengthen teen driver safety in Lafayette County, Horn is recommending that school districts implement Drive By Example, which is a sustained, comprehensive driver safety program that is introduced starting in the 9th grade, well before a teen starts driving.
The core message of Drive By Example is that drivers always drive:
Alert, Buckled, Cautious, & Defensive.Â That is A-B-C-D.
Through multiple Drive By Example promotions, materials, and communications, driving safety is kept high on the student consciousness.Â Instead of teen driver protection initiatives being limited to several group assemblies per school year, Drive By Example is a constant reminder to the student body and the school administration that driving alert, buckled, cautious, and defensive is a top priority.
Drive By Example is a perfect fit for high school application because it is:
- built on a clear, concise, and memorable driver safety message that is applicable to drivers and passengers.
- addresses multiple teen driving safety priorities, including the reduction of distracted, reckless, and impaired driving.
- encourages a higher driving standard, personal responsibility, and student leadership.
Drive By Example is not just for high school students. A major part of the initiative is to equip parents to teach their children a safe driving approach. Horn believes that parents hold the key when it comes to driving safety. He is in the process of publishing a Missouri Teen Driver Protection guide that contains information parents can use to best protect their teens as both drivers and passengers.
When school resumes in the fall, Horn will be reaching out to booster clubs and other parent groups, providing Drive By Example presentations and materials.
The primary objective of Drive By Example is to prevent the types of accidents that occurred on December 2019. While we all know that seat belts save lives, this accident was a stark reminder that not all teen drivers are buckling up. Seat belt use is one area where we believe Drive By Example can make a difference.
But it is more than just seat belts, we must focus on instilling a safe driving approach that starts as 9th graders if we are going to make substantial strides in protecting teen drivers, and Drive By Example can be a big part of meeting our goal and making Lafayette County, Missouri, a model county in teen driver protection.