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Keeping teen drivers alive
WCHS could win $100K from State Farm
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Texting and driving. Drinking and driving. Talking on the phone and driving.
There are more distractions than ever when teens get behind the wheel.
It’s for that reason State Farm created a program last year called Celebrate My Drive. The program encourages teens to make positive choices as they start driving and promotes the belief that safe driving is a life-long commitment. The program includes a contest in which State Farm is offering a total of $3.5 million in grants and awards to participating high schools across the country.
Warren County High School has registered for this competition and will vie with several thousand other schools for the top prizes. This includes two performances by pop music superstar Kelly Clarkson that come with $100,000 grants. Additionally, there will be eight more $100,000 grants, and 90 schools will receive $25,000.
Last year, neighboring White County High School won $100,000.
The way WCHS can win is by outvoting other schools in an online click-in during National Teen Drive Safety Week, which is recognized Oct. 18-26.  Anyone age 14 and over – including students, teachers, parents and members of the community – can log in every day of the week-long drive to cast a vote for Warren County High School (make sure it’s the one in Tennessee).  
Paddi Smith, computer science teacher at WCHS and faculty advisor for the Student Advisory Committee, is collaborating with the school system’s IT director, Katrina Haley, in setting up laptops and iPads where students and teachers will be able to register their safe-driving commitment every day during the observance.
State Farm agents Neil Helton and Bill Zechman will provide large red tents as Internet cafés outside each ticket booth at Nunley Stadium before the Oct. 18 game with Rhea County. The idea is to make it convenient for students and football fans to click-in to the registration site to cast their votes.
Celebrate My Drive safety announcements recorded by Student Advisory Committee members are running on the Peg Broadcasting stations, and public radio 91.3 WCPI will air a half-hour special next week on the hazards faced by beginning drivers.
Zechman said, “I’m very proud of my company for making this large investment in educating our novice drivers, whose statistical risk of dying in an automobile accident is at its highest in their first year of driving. State Farm and other insurance companies are also a major part of the local and national economy. We have substantial revenues in the form of premiums, and we also put money back into the community in paying for medical bills, collision repairs and automobile replacements. Celebrate My Drive is a great way to bring some of that money back to Warren County without having to experience the loss and suffering of an auto accident.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash, per each mile driven.
Visit between 12 a.m. CT Oct. 18 and 11:59 p.m. CT Oct. 26 and click on Warren County High School to make safe driving commitments on behalf of WCHS. Everyone can vote one time per day.