On Friday, Nov. 10, Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) Youth Transportation Safety (YTS) Program hosted a one-day safety summit that brought together young traffic safety ambassadors, ranging from junior high to college students and highway safety professionals.
The theme for this year’s summit was “Moving Forward Together,” and participants did just that by exploring the latest highway safety research, best practices and strategies aimed at addressing risky young driving behaviors.
“Over the past 20 years, when our program and mission started, teen fatalities were at an unbelievable high,” notes TTI Associate Research Scientist and YTS Program Manager Lisa Minjares-Kyle during her welcoming remarks. “I’m proud to say, as I stand here today, that we’ve witnessed a nearly forty percent reduction in fatal teen crashes, showing that what we are doing is working. Despite this tremendous progress, we haven’t reached the ultimate goal of zero fatalities, and that’s why we’re here. We focus on moving forward together, leading the next generation to safer and better roads.”
The YTS Summit provided a national platform for engaging general sessions, including one that highlighted passenger empowerment by National Road Safety Foundation’s Michelle Anderson and another covering traditional and social media training presented by TTI Communications Specialist II Stephanie Ferguson and TTI Program Specialist II Cesar Caballero. Participants also attended informative breakout sessions covering diverse topics. These sessions included discussions on positive youth development by Minjares-Kyle, a presentation on crash scene investigations led by BRC’s Robert Alaniz, and much more. The summit was further enriched with an impactful keynote address by Jacy Good and Steve Johnson from Hang Up and Drive.
“We get to decide what happens on our roads, whether that’s good things or bad things,” says Good, an advocate for distraction-free roads. “I hope that by sharing my real, personal story young people, especially our youth, will be able to make the choice to make good things happen on our roads.”
The summit also featured a panel session with the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) and Collegiate Advisory Board (CAB). The TAB, comprised of high school students, collaborates to help tailor the Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) Program to the needs of their peers, while the CAB, made up of college students, provides valuable insights and support for the U in the Driver Seat (UDS) Program, targeting the collegiate community. This interactive panel session included a Q&A segment providing panel members an opportunity to share their insights and ideas regarding the TDS and UDS programs with the summit participants.
Sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, State Farm, Union Pacific, and the National Road Safety Foundation, the summit took place at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk, attracting over 90 participants. With their generous support, the event was available to all participants at no cost.
Minjares-Kyle reflects on the event’s success, stating, “It is a remarkable opportunity for us to bring together our youth advocates and safety partners on this vital topic. These events energize and empower our youth advocates and enhance their journey towards creating safer roads. We look forward to hosting our next summit in November of 2024, here in San Antonio, attracting more schools and organizations to address youth car crashes. We’d also like to thank our sponsors for their unwavering support and commitment to the YTS program.”