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Teen traffic summit fun weekend on serious topic

By Dan Rahn
University of Georgia

Something is painfully sad about the number -- 120 or more -- of teenagers who will gather at the Rock Eagle 4-H Camp near Eatonton, Ga., for the Teen Summit on Traffic Safety July 22-24.

The teens won't be sad. They'll be having fun. The University of Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute has planned an exciting weekend for the young drivers who will be learning critical principles of traffic safety.

It's just that number.

It dogs you when you realize the number attending the summit on traffic safety is smaller than the 200 or more teens who die each year in automobile crashes on Georgia roadways.

It's even worse if you compare it to the more than 6,000 teens who die nationally each year in auto accidents. "It's dangerous out there on the highways," said Beth Bartlett, a GTIPI parent-youth outreach education assistant.

But there's hope

The teens at the summit will be trained to teach traffic safety, Bartlett said, to elementary and middle school students in their communities.

They'll help adult instructors, too, with the two-hour "Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE" (Parents Reducing Incidents of Driver Error) class for parents and their teen drivers.

There are still openings in the summit, Bartlett said. There's still time, too, to sign up for the remaining scholarships.

The cost of the summit is only $100 for the three days. But scholarships cover even that cost for 120 students from 60 Georgia high schools.

Scholarship applications must be turned in by July 1. They're at UGA Extension Service county offices and on-line at www.ridesafegeorgia.org. Each must include a simple letter of recommendation from a county 4-H agent, SADD leader, school administrator or teacher, Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE instructor or law enforcement officer.

Low cost

Teens who attend the summit on scholarships must agree to give traffic safety presentations at local schools. But their only expense will be getting to and from Rock Eagle.

"Adult supervisors and leaders are also invited," said GTIPI Director Steve Davis. "Scholarships are available for 30 adults."

Fax completed applications to (678) 413-4293. Or mail them to GTIPI, 1070 Culpepper Drive, Suite 300, Conyers, GA 30094.

Want to know more? Call Bartlett or Frankie Jones at 1-800-342-9819 or (678) 413-4281 or Mindy Linton at (912) 652-7992. Or go to the Web site (www.ridesafegeorgia.org).

Increasing the number of teens at the Teen Summit on Traffic Safety can help decrease that other number. You know -- one you don't want to think about.

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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