Towards Zero Deaths
by Dawn M. Teixeira, National President and CEO SADD, Inc. (Students Against Destructive Decisions)
Thirty-five years ago, a revolution began in the halls of Wayland High School in Wayland, MA with a simple idea that one young person, when empowered, can and will make a difference. Wayland was the birthplace of SADD after that community suffered the loss of three students in three alcohol-related crashes. What followed was a decade of students accepting responsibility and taking change into their own hands. Students rose up and advocated, educated, and joined forces with parents, teachers, and other caring adults, businesses, legislators, law enforcement, and the community at large to stop the deaths and injuries that resulted from the decision to drink and drive. At that time, the organization was named Students Against Driving Drunk and in 1997, the name was changed to Students Against Destructive Decisions at the urging of its student members to address other critical teen issues.
SADD students of today continue the revolution with great passion because they know that their prevention work has no end. It’s true, with decades of mass media campaigns, local peer-to-peer and community education and programming, improvements in road conditions and emergency response tactics and changes in laws, our population is much more aware of the dangers on the roads and the long-term numbers do show the progress. However, motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. General lack of experience behind the wheel, judgement and decision-making ability, as well as distractions from other people in the car and personal technology all contribute to the fact that teen traffic safety is an issue that must stay at the forefront of our work. Having just one young person die on our roadways is one too many.
That is why at the recent SADD National Conference on Youth Health & Safety, we announced that SADD officially joined the “Towards Zero Death” initiative. This effort, led by the Department of Transportation and dozens of other organizations across the country, seeks to achieve one goal- a day when no life is lost on our roads; a day when every mom and dad, brother and sister, coworker and friend, gets where they are going safely, every trip, every time.
An effort like this may seem impossible but I am reminded of the numerous moments in history when we doubted the ability of human drive and passion. The students and adults that make up SADD Nation have that drive and passion to make this goal happen by using the SADD approach. The SADD approach challenges each of us to empower the teens around us- whether they are our friends or our children, students in our classroom or in our neighborhood. It challenges us to engage parents, so they know the laws and have those meaningful conversations that must happen to make our roadways safe. The SADD approach mobilizes communities because it not only takes a village to raise a child; it takes a village to keep a teen safe. In the end, we believe the SADD approach saves lives and advances the collective effort Towards Zero Deaths.
As we celebrate SADD’s 35th birthday this year, our wish is simple. We need each of you! We ask you to join this commitment with us. Join the commitment simply by:
- Reflecting on how you drive each time to get behind the wheel
- Educate others on the issues
- Speak-up when you see a driver being unsafe
- Do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone around you gets home safely
Find more information and free resources and programs for parents and teens please visit SADD’s website: www.sadd.org/tzd.