DA Announces Distracted Driving Program For Students

Chautauqua County Distric Attorney Patrick Swanson announced a distracted driving program for all 19 public schools in Chautauqua County that will take place on Sept. 18 and 19.

Jacy Good and Steve Johnson from “Hang Up and Drive” will be presenting at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts. There will be four presentations with two on each day. The 18th will be for seniors and the 19th for juniors.

Jacy Good and Steve Johnson are nationally known speakers and advocates for cell phone-free roads. Since a 2008 crash (caused by a distracted driver) killed both her parents and left her partially paralyzed, Jacy has made a miraculous recovery. Together, she and Johnson (her husband) have worked tirelessly to educate the country about the dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention automotive accidents are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens. Swanson noted that six teens, aged 16-19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile driven, they are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers aged 20 and older.

Studies show the correlation between cellphone use and motor vehicle crashes is undeniable and increasing. Fortunately, teen automobile crashes are preventable and proven strategies can improve the safety of young drivers. The “Hang Up and Drive” presentation is centered on educating teen driviers on distracted driving and improving road safety. Swanson said he will utilize crime forfeiture funds to finance the presentation. Through the coordinated efforts of DA Swanson and superintendants of all the public schools, over 3000 juniors and seniors will be attending the program.

“I’m very pleased that Jacy and Steve’s message will be received by every high school senior and junior in the county,” Swanson said in a statement. “Getting this message to them at the beginning of the school year was very improtant. I want to thank all the superintendants that worked with me to get this message to their students.

“The importance of our new drivers exercising good judgment and caution cannot be overstated. It was no small task to get every district on the same page and committed to the same dates and times.

Swanson especially expressed thanks to Southwestern Superintendant Maureen Donahue.

“She was instrumental in getting the ball rolling,” Swanson said. He also credited Kathlean Eads and the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts for assistance in preparing the event.

For student safety this event is closed to the public and only Chautauqua County students and school staff are allowed to attend.