Ashley Renee Thompson lost her life in a singular vehicular accident on June 10, 2003 — she was just sixteen years old. She was an advanced placement student, a competitive gymnast, and loved by her friends and peers. Her mother created The ART of Driving in memory of her daughter to increase awareness among teens and parents of the unique risks faced by young, novice drivers and to impress upon them the need for improved training, increased supervised time behind-the-wheel, and increased parental involvement. The ART of Driving is also advocating for improvements in driver education for our youth and seeks to change the mindset of teens and their parents that tragedies like this “won’t happen to me”.
Teen crash and fatality statistics are absolutely sobering:
- 48% of all teen driving fatalities were single vehicle crashes.
- Alcohol and drugs are NOT major causes for these fatalities – representing only 20%.
- Inexperience and distractions are the leading cause of teen driving fatalities, particularly for 16 and 17-year-olds.
- 54% of all teen passenger deaths occurred when another teen was driving.
- The teen brain has not fully developed until the mid 20’s. They are susceptible to distractions, risk taking behaviors, and a limited capacity to multi-task.
- 80% of crashes involve some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the crash.
- The majority of teen auto fatalities occur on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Most of those deaths occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight.
- 16 to 18-year-olds have the highest crash rate of any other age group.
So what can you do as a parent, grandparent, Godparent, Uncle, Aunt, friend to help save a child’s life? The Art of Driving has various resources to help. They can assist with starting a Teen Task Force at school or in a youth club or group. They will come speak at PTSA, Teen Night, Driver’s Education classes, SGA or any other interested group to help educate and enable our local youth to be more responsible and aware drivers.
We have once again partnered with The Art of Driving to raise money and awareness for this wonderful, local non-profit. We will be donating $1 from every haircut this May to The Art of Driving. There are a few ways you can help out as well:
- Register for the 3rd Annual Survive the 5 (with both 5k and 10k race options) to help raise awareness and support The Art of Driving educational programs and their scholarship fund.
- Have your child(ren) sign The Art of Driving Pledge.
- Purchase a copy of How the Firefly Got Its Name, written by Ashley when she was just twelve. (If your kids are too old for this book consider a purchase to donate to your local school library).