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FOUNDATIONS OF HEALTH

SARAH SMITH

Preparing new drivers for the road ahead

Parents of young drivers have good reason to be worried about the safety of their children. Traffic crashes are the number one killer of teens. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports that 93% of teens killed in traffic crashes were killed in vehicles driven by another teenager. Why? They are inexperienced and often have other passengers in the car distracting them from the road.

Sarah Smith, ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City VIP speaker of 20 years, is working with ThinkFirst Missouri, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Department of Transportation to offer parents an opportunity to help keep their teens safe while driving.

“I have shared my personal story and prevention message with thousands of students. When I heard how First Impact was targeting a new audience, parents, and was tackling such an important safety issue, I knew I wanted to be involved,” Sarah said.

First Impact is a traffic safety program that educates parents about Missouri’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) law and provides them with the tools they need to monitor, coach and support their new driver. The program features video, discussion and engaging activities to promote the importance of parents and teens working together to reduce teen crashes, injuries and fatalities. Facilitators, like Sarah, coach parents by helping them understand the risks and responsibilities associated with driving and lower their teen’s crash risk by introducing them to the Missouri GDL law.

“Many parents are not aware of or only have a vague understanding of the GDL law, a law that has been proven to reduce teen crashes by up to 40 percent,” Sarah said. “The First Impact presentations help parents navigate this complex law and keep their teens safer on the road.”

“First Impact builds upon what ThinkFirst is already doing. First Impact has a goal to reduce injuries and deaths among teen drivers, something ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City has strived for in the last 30 years. By reaching parents, making them aware of the GDL law and giving them tools to help their teen drivers, First Impact is reinforcing the ThinkFirst mission and making Missouri roads safer,” Sarah said.

After committing the past two decades of her life to ThinkFirst of Greater Kansas City and injury prevention among students, Sarah is now helping parents help their young drivers. The program is available statewide in Missouri and is free of charge. If you have a parent group or community group that would like to host a free First Impact program for its members please visit firstimpactmo.org to learn more.