Lumpkin part of national driving team

Published 6:43 am Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bainbridge teen Allyson Lumpkin was chosen from more than 100 applicants to serve on the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) Youth Distracted Driving Leadership Team.

The team members attended the U.S. Department of Transportation Distracted Driving Summit and the NOYS Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 21 and 22. Each teen met with federal and state leaders, learned about the distracted driving issue and reviewed preventive efforts.

Lumpkin said she chose to take on the distracted driving issue because “I have seen the downfalls that distracted driving can bring to a community, and I would like to be enlighten about the dangers of distracted driving in order to possibly help save lives and prevent avoidable accidents.”

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Lumpkin is a multimedia communications major and Student Government vice president. She was a founding member of her high school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter and was president of the group for two years. She also served as a member of the 2008-2009 National Leadership Council for SADD.

Two other teens attended, Zachary Allen from Valdosta and Jennifer Ross of Loganville. The three teens represented the largest contingency from any single state.

A recent study by The Allstate Foundation found that 70 percent of teens say it’s easy to become distracted behind the wheel, but fewer teens are willing to speak up when they feel uncomfortable with another teens driving.

Texting while driving tops teens list of driving distractions, followed by seeing crashes on the side of the road, being tired and running late. Other distractions include talking on a cell phone, eating and having friends in the car.

Georgia currently bans texting for all drivers and all cell phone use for teen drivers. Georgia joins 29 other states, as well of the District of Columbia and Guam, that ban texting for all drivers. Twelve of those laws were recently enacted in 2010.

“It’s important for everyone to stay focused behind the wheel, but lack of driving experience makes our youngest drivers more at-risk on the road,” said John Heid, spokesperson for Allstate’s Southeast Region. “Teens listen to their peers, so it’s important that leaders work together to find real solutions to a deadly problem to make distracted driving socially unacceptable.”

Twenty teens were selected based on their leadership experience at their school and passion to make roads safe.

Teens developed an action plan while attending the NOYS Distracted Driving Summit to address teen driving behaviors on a national scale and are to bring it to their home community. The Youth Distracted Driving Leadership Team will implement their teen-led safe driving action plans throughout the school year, culminating during National Youth Traffic Safety Month in May 2011.

“The foundation goal of the work of the NOYS Coalition is that youth prevention efforts be done with youth and not to youth. We are looking forward to the leadership of these youth to provide direction and implementation of teen distracted driving prevention initiatives all across the country,” said Sandy Spavone, NOYS executive director. e