The SafeTeen Georgia Driving Academy is a driving expo held every May in the Atlanta metro area. The day-long event allows teens 14 and older and their parents/guardians to learn the basics of safe driving through interactive presentations and demonstrations taught by the Safe America Foundation training staff, law enforcement, fire fighters, emergency medical personnel and juvenile traffic court judges.
For the past decade, between 5,000 and 6,000 teenagers die in vehicle crashes every year. These drivers are also 400% more likely to die in a car crash than 25-34 year old drivers. This is not just a national problem; Georgia ranks 4th in the nation for teen car crashes, yet a very low percentage of the state’s teens get driver education. Since 2002, the Safe America Foundation and the Driving Academy’s corporate sponsors have worked together to change this and make Georgia’s roads safer by teaching metro Atlanta teens the importance of safe driving.
Begun in 2002 as the Teen Driving Institute, the Driving Academy was initially a weekday driving safety event for metro-Atlanta high school students held in the parking lot of Lockheed Martin. In an acknowledgement that parental involvement has a major impact on teen driving habits, the Foundation decided to move the event to the weekend. From 2005 to 2012, the Atlanta Motor Speedway served as the Driving Academy’s home. In 2013, the event moved to its current home at the Cobb Galleria Center.
Over the years, the SafeTeen Georgia Driving Academy has continued to evolve and keep pace with emerging traffic safety issues. Reflecting these changes, new components for the 2013 Driving Academy included:
- over 20 interactive exhibits showcasing safety equipment such as airbags and how they work when deployed;
- participation by over 70 Police, Fire and EMS professionals;
- educational “pit stops” where attendees can learn about Georgia driving laws Distracted and impaired driving, trauma care, car maintenance, railroad crossing safety among other topics;
- obstacle courses that simulate impaired driving with “fatal vision goggles” and a distracted driving course designed to highlight the dangers of texting while driving;
- driving simulators allow teens to test their behind-the-wheel safety knowledge and braking skills;
- a teen pullover and sobriety test followed by an arrest and hearing in front of a real Traffic Court Judge; and
- a crash simulation concluding with a teen victim being life-flighted to the nearest trauma center
The event has been a tremendous success in educating teens and parents. Over the last eight years, more than 10,000 attendees have received the tips and tools to make them safer drivers.