For the third summer in a row, Winter Haven Area Transit is teaming up with the rest of Polk County’s bus services to provide free transport to teens in the area. Until Aug. 1, the Summer of Safety program will cover the bus fare for all youth ages 12 to 18. While originally designed to help teens get off the street and motivated to do meaningful activities over the summer, Summer of Safety may also be reducing teen driving accidents.
The Summer of Safety program coincides with most of the “100 Deadliest Days,” or the 100 days following Memorial Days known for dangerous rates of teen driver accidents and distracting driving. By providing young locals with the means to get around for free, Polk County may not only be protecting novice drivers, but the pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists put at risk by distracted novices.
A major facet of distracted driving is text and driving, and for teens new to driving, it can be difficult to stay focused on the road and fight off the temptation to chat with friends. Another major contributor to distracted driving statistics for teenagers is having too many friends in the vehicle.
Playing with the radio, chatting, and laughing with friends can all be major distractions for novice drivers, to the extent that some states won’t allow teen drivers to have other teens as passengers at all. By allowing teens to take the bus around Polk County together, Summer of Safety allows these young drivers to have fun and talk with their friends without putting other drivers at risk.
The benefits of Summer of Safety also extends to pedestrians and cyclists, a population at major risk as Polk County ranks among the top 10 counties in Florida for bicycle and pedestrian death and injuries, according to news reports. Not only will pedestrians and cyclists have fewer teen drivers on the road to be wary of, but young pedestrians themselves can opt to take the Winter Haven Area Transit in areas with poor infrastructure, getting them off the sidewalk and in the safety of a bus.
“It’s a win-win for the students,” Polk County Schools Director of Transportation Operations Vaughn Belcher told The Ledger recently. “They won’t have to ride a bicycle somewhere or walk alongside a street — it’s safer for them this way.”
Summer of Safety will operate on all Polk Transit buses all seven days a week from 6:15 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. To participate, teens must simply register with Polk County and pledge to make safe decisions.
Summer can be a dangerous time on the road as novice motorists flock to highways in record numbers to visit friends and commute to summer jobs. Although Summer of Safety’s original vision focused on teen delinquency and providing a free method of travel to all teens in Polk County, the program may be able to tackle the issue of teen driving accidents as well, making it an important asset to the community.
Have you suffered an injury from an accident caused by a distracted driver? Our car accident attorneys at Morgan & Morgan can help. Read more to learn about the type of damages you can recover in a car accident and the steps you need to receive compensation. If you’re ready to pursue filing a claim, contact us for a free, no-risk case evaluation.