The Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) and the Lutzie 43 Foundation continue their partnership and mission of educating young drivers on safe driving practices with a series of Safe Driving Summits taking place across the state. The Safe Driving Summits provide high school students with an opportunity to hear from responders who are first on the scene of a crash including state and local law enforcement, ER/trauma doctors and nurses, as well as other presenters about the realities of how their decisions behind the wheel can impact the rest of their life.
“We are excited to continue our efforts to break the cycle of unsafe driving habits by educating local high school students about the dangers of distracted and impaired driving,” said Sam Harris, state safety engineering manager for the Georgia DOT. “Young drivers are at the highest risk to be involved in a crash caused by distracted driving, and the goal of these summits is to provide attendees with real-world situations and stories that they can use to help make better decisions behind the wheel – and ultimately reduce the number of crashes and fatalities cause by distracted driving in Georgia.”
Within the past two years, Georgia saw an increase in traffic fatalities despite fewer vehicles being on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase was seen nationwide and has been attributed to increased speeds, reduced seatbelt use, distracted driving and driving under the influence. This devastating and concerning trend is a primary reason the Georgia DOT continues to seek innovative ways to improve safety on the state’s roads, and that starts with education on safe driving practices. The partnership began in 2021 with the mission to promote the Lutzie 43 Foundation’s 43 Key Seconds safe driving initiative and the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Drive Alert Arrive Alive campaign in an effort to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities in Georgia caused by unsafe driving such as distracted and impaired driving, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.
The Safe Driving Summits target high schoolers with the idea that teaching best practices such as wearing your seat belt, staying off your phone, and not speeding while in the beginning of or before a teenager’s driving years will create healthy and safe habits that will carry through the rest of their lives. During the events, students participate in a keynote presentation and several breakout sessions. The third summit is set to take place on January 31, 2023, in Columbus, Ga.
Georgia DOT’s Drive Alert Arrive Alive campaign is a statewide safety initiative to educate drivers about simple changes they can make in their driving behavior to prevent crashes, improve safety and save lives. Simple tasks like buckling up, staying off your phone and not driving impaired or drowsy are key messages of the campaign and are ways drivers can take responsibility to protect themselves, their passengers, other motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.
The Lutzie 43 Foundation – founded by Mike Lutzenkirchen following the death of his son, Philip, in 2014 – aims to encourage and empower all drivers to be positive ambassadors for safe driving through character development, mentorship and real-world application. The foundation’s 43 Key Seconds safe driving initiative aims to create the first nationally-recognized symbol for distracted, impaired and unsafe driving awareness and prevention. For more information, visit www.lutzie43.org.
For more information on the program, visit Georgia DOT’s Safety Programs webpage. If your school is interested in hosting or participating in a Safe Driving Summit, please reach out to Georgia DOT’s State Safety Engineering Manager Sam Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.