What is OTSD?
Illinois is determined to save teen lives!
In the spring of 2007, Operation Teen Safe Driving was launched in rural Tazewell County after authorities noticed that automobile crashes took 15 teen lives in 15 consecutive months. In the 5 years since Operation Teen Safe Driving was implemented there have been no additional teen fatalities in Tazewell County.
After the success in rural Tazewell County, the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association agreed to team up, once again, with the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Division of Traffic Safety (DTS) and The Allstate Foundation, to take this lifesaving program statewide in 2008. Our mission is to provide the initiative and resources required to challenge the creativity of Illinois teens to develop and implement community-based programs to reduce fatalities and injuries due to traffic crashes among their peers.
Sponsors of this program include: Governor Pat Quinn, Secretary of State (SOS) Jesse White, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary, Illinois State Police, the Ford Motor Company Fund, The Allstate Foundation and the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Financial assistance is a key component to the success of this program as it provides the incentive to challenge students and their communities to participate. The selection process requires students to identify issues relating to traffic safety in their community (i.e., underage drinking, driving unbuckled, driving impaired, driving distracted). Students are required to provide information explaining how they would combat the traffic safety problem and implement a teen awareness program in their school and community.
All of the selected schools will receive $2000 in grant funding from IDOT/DTS and from the Allstate Foundation.
The selected schools develop and implement a peer to peer based program and present a report at the conclusion of the program. Winners are selected from each region and each will receive prize money to host a post-prom party.
The top 5 schools from each region are also invited to send students to a “Driving Skills for Life, Ride and Drive” event which is sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund. Students will observe professional drivers on three separate courses demonstrating critical driving skills. Teens will then have the opportunity to drive the same courses with the professional driver sitting in the passenger seat to provide tips and assistance. The “Driving Skills for Life Ride and Drive” events are held at US Cellular Field in Chicago and the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield. Areas in which the students have an opportunity to learn improved driving skills and included Hazard Recognition/Accident Avoidance, Vehicle Handling/ Skid Control and Speed/Space Management.
We look forward to the future of the Operation Teen Safe Driving program. High school students are incredibly creative and they come up with new and innovative ways to get the message across to their peers about safe driving. Three of the favorite slogans from last year’s program were “Don’t crack up, buckle up”, “Could you live without me?” and “D.W.I.—Drive with intelligence”. Both of these programs were aimed at educating teens about the dangers of text messaging while driving.