Pittston Area teens learn tips on safe driving from Jenkins Township police, PennDOT

By Nick Wagner - nwagner@timesleader.com | October 20th, 2015 6:21 pm

YATESVILLE — On Tuesday, students and drivers passing through Yatesville were tested by the Jenkins Township Police Department. That test culminated with a presentation to Pittston Area juniors and seniors on decision making while on the roadways.

Jenkins Township Police Department conducted a seat belt check on Tuesday. On Wednesday, department Police Officer Tracy Schultz gave the presentation “Survival 101: A Student’s Guide to Staying Alive” in the high school auditorium. The program coincides with National Teen Driving Week.

Students were made aware of the risks of distracted driving and driving without a seat belt. Schultz’s presentation displayed several graphic photos and videos to try and reach her young audience.

“You must wear your seat belt,” she told the students. “I don’t want to be the one to knock on your parents door to tell them something happened — whether it’s an injury or fatality. Our main goal is to make sure you guys are safe.”

Schultz’s presentation highlighted using a media device while driving, which included sending and receiving text messages. She said taking your eyes off the road for five seconds is equivalent to traveling the length of a football field. She also made it clear that driving with alcohol is a zero tolerance policy.

“The critical message is to use caution when driving with friends,” Schultz said. “Most likely it’s going to be you concentrated on the road. If you get a text, pull over. At some point you will come to a stop and check your messages. It’s worth your life.”

The presentation is designed to encourage appropriate decision making among middle and high school students. It was developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Buckle Up PA Project. Teamed up with the Buckle Up PA Project, officers throughout the Commonwealth are taught to give the presentations to schools.

Rebecca Rybak of the Northeast Highway Safety Program coordinated the event.

“I feel that if we reach one teen, then we were successful,” she said. “It opens their eyes to the risk of driving. It’s a freedom they long for. They need to know it’s not a right, it’s a privilege (to drive). They have to show they are mature enough and make wise decisions.”

Pittston Area senior John Henry Kutney, 18, has been driving for more than a year. He was impressed with the tips and the guidance the representatives gave during the presentation.

“It means a lot when they come here and take time out of their day,” he said. “We have a lot to learn and I look forward to any advice.”

Kutney expects to use some of these when traveling in his own vehicle.

“It can go a long way,” he said. “Everything they said will help - tips or anything.”

Also on hand for the presentation were Pittston Area Police Officer Mike Boone and Jenkins Township Police Chief Frank Mudlock. Boone and Mudlock helped with the presentation by providing insight from both of their experiences throughout their careers.

The event at Pittston Area wasn’t the only Teen Driving Week program held in the area this week.

The Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Walk was held on the campus of Wilkes University on Tuesday morning. The college will host Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Distracted Driving Simulators at the student center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Pittston Area juniors and seniors listen contently during a presentation on safe driving Tuesday at the high school.
http://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/web1_TTLDriving3.jpgPittston Area juniors and seniors listen contently during a presentation on safe driving Tuesday at the high school. Nick Wagner | Times Leader

By Nick Wagner


Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick