This week (Oct. 18-24, 2015) is National Teen Driver Safety Week, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) focuses on raising awareness of the #1 killer of teens aged 14-18 years old in the U.S.: motor vehicle crashes. According to NHTSA, in 2013 alone, there were 2,614 teens were involved in fatal crashes, with some 130,000 injured.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s) award-winning Teens in the Driver Seat® program is supporting NHTSA’s call to action highlighting each of the top five teen driving dangers on separate days this week. Those dangers are 1) driving at night, 2) speeding and street racing, 3) distracted driving, 4) failure to wear a seat belt and 5) driving under the influence. With the program’s resources and staff support, high schools across the nation undertake a variety of grassroots outreach activities throughout the year in their schools and communities to help create a traffic safety culture.
“Today, we’re emphasizing the need to wear a seat belt whenever you’re in the car, whether you’re driving or not,” says TDS founder and TTI Youth Transportation Safety Program Manager Russell Henk. “The recent experience of one of our Nebraska teen board members, Danielle Prososki, proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
Prososki is a 15-year-old freshman at Fullerton Public Schools in Fullerton, Nebraska. She serves on her high school’s student council and is a member of the Fullerton TDS advisory board, a group of student leaders who direct a high school’s TDS activities. She credits wearing her seatbelt—and knowing how important doing so is, thanks to her TDS affiliation—with saving her life.
On her way home from school one day, her car’s steering wheel locked up on Prososki. She crashed into a ditch at 40-45 miles per hour, rolling her car two-and-a-half times. “I was on my side up against a fence for what felt like forever,” says Prososki. “At some point, I guess I blacked out.”
Local residents passing by managed to pull Prososki from her car and called an ambulance. After proving unresponsive at Genoa Community Hospital, Prososki was life-flighted to Lincoln, Nebraska, where she was eventually stabilized. The teen has since recovered and even written down her story for the benefit of others. She suffered a severe concussion, whiplash, shoulder and back issues, four bruised ribs, a cut in the back of my head where it got liquid stitches, multiple other cuts and scrapes, and many bruises. She’s currently working through physical therapy for her shoulder and back.
“All in all, I’m extremely lucky,” says Prososki. “If I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt, I definitely would have died, or I would have had much worse injuries. My seat belt saved my life, and yours could save your life, too!”