Fewer schools booking safe driving program

Posted at 7:21 PM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-13 19:21:22-04

There’s a trend one advocacy group says could put drivers in harm’s way.

Dori Saves Lives is a traffic safety organization. It goes into South Florida schools to share driving tips with teenagers. But the director said fewer and fewer schools are signing up for the group’s free programs.

With fewer schools participating, fewer young, inexperienced drivers are getting the group’s message. And organizers said it could be making the roads more dangerous for all of us.

Alexis Vazquez knows how dangerous the roads can be.

Nine years ago, a driver hit him as he walked across A1A in Boca Raton. He spent three months in a coma. He said he awoke with one thought.

“What can I do to make sure it never happens to anyone again,” Vazquez said.

Now, Vazquez works with Dori Saves Lives. He speaks in front of assemblies and classrooms sharing his story.

“I never want what happened to me to happen to anyone, not even half of what happened to me to happen to anyone,” explained Vazquez, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in his crash. 

Dori Saves Lives brings in crash survivors, lawyers, law enforcement and health officials to speak with teen drivers. The group teaches teens to wear seat belts, put down cell phones, and pay attention to the road.

Today the team met with freshmen a AD Henderson High School on Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus.

But director Tara Applebaum said she should be presenting to more schools like she has in the past.

“It’s so disappointing when we continue to hear stories of tragic events that happen with teen drivers,” Applebaum explained.

The time from Memorial Day to Labor Day is called “The 100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers.” Historically, the number of crashes involving teens goes up during the summer months.

Data from the state show teenagers caused a little more than 10 percent of all crashes in Florida in 2013 and 2014.

In Palm Beach County, the number of teen drivers causing crashes jumped 8 percent from 2013 to 2014. 15 teens died in crashes during those two years in Palm Beach County.

“It’s crazy to think that one little look away from the wheel and everything is different,” explained Casey Serrano, a freshman at AD Henderson.

If Appelbaum can't get her safety message in front of soon-to-be drivers like Serrano, she worries about the safety of everyone on the road.  

Dori Saves Lives will offer its programs throughout the end of the school year and during the summer school session. It’s not too late for any school to schedule a program before the end of the year.