One American life is lost every 17 minutes because of driving related accidents. This startling statistic led me to create the program, “The Road to Safe Driving.” I decided to approach the issue of driving safety from a different angle. Instead of discussing proactive driving behaviors with veteran drivers, I thought I’d talk with the audience sitting in the backseat of the car – the kids. Children, ages 10 to 14, are a few short years away from getting their license and are at a prime age for building a strong foundation for good driving habits. By structuring my program like a D.A.R.E. program, I could impact their view of driving during a very developmental stage in their life.
I spent two years researching, conducting interviews, and listening to life-altering stories. It all came together to form my educational DVD and website which addressed four main topics: street racing, unseen pedestrians, distractions while driving, and driving under the influence. With each topic, students and I discussed the main issues that exist and how they could deal with them. My goal was to help children realize their responsibilities as a pedestrian, a passenger in a vehicle, and a future driver.
I've learned that it is important to take the time and make smart driving decisions, because they really do save lives. It’s better to lose one minute in life, than to lose life in a minute.
For the past couple of years, I have been able to continue with the mission of my Gold Award even after achieving it, and I’d hope that other girls are able to do the same. My Gold Award Project evolved into the platform that I use with the Miss America Organization. As Miss Gloucester County, I currently use the program that I created to promote my messages across the state of New Jersey, and I plan to do it across the country as Miss America one day.
In addition to the driving education program I created, I aim to make driving safer in America by working with other organizations, like the National Hot Rod Association, Oprah’s “No Phone Zone”, and many state and city offices for highway and transportation safety.
Advice for Future Awardees
Make sure that you choose an issue that is close to your heart. You'll be much more passionate about it, and you will be more inclined to continue with it after achieving your award.