From Deputy Director Maria Almonte:
On Wednesday, February 4th, I attended a Youth Educating for Safety (YES) Conference, which focused largely on the Choices and Consequences program presented by the Kings County (Brooklyn) District Attorney. There were about 150 high school students in attendance, representing all five boroughs.
Choices and Consequences is a program developed in response to the deadly problems of reckless and drunk driving among teenagers. Across the country, nearly 6,000 teens die each year in motor vehicle crashes (Allstate Foundation Report on Teen Driving, 2005). Most of these deaths are preventable and many result in criminal prosecutions.
The interactive presentation was moderated by Gale Dampf, the Bureau Chief of Vehicular Crimes in Brooklyn. She, along with officers from the Brooklyn North Task Force and the Family Life Theatre, presented an educational, interactive and emotionally impactful program. It included multi-media clips, public service announcements and photos of young victims, and the crime/car crash scenes.
But the largest impact of the day by far was the presentation of three offenders who shared their stories with the audience. They discussed how bad choices like drinking and or reckless driving led them to experience and live out some hard consequences. One of the speakers, 26 years old, said to the group of students, "It’s been 8 years since my reckless driving resulted in someone’s death, and the nightmares never go away. I was just like you, in high school, driving alone with only a permit and that was the worst decision I ever made."
Here at Bronx Community Solutions we have been brainstorming with the Bronx Bureau Chief, Joseph McCormack, on ways to bring more awareness to the issue of driving under the influence and reckless driving. The plan is to host a special Law Day event in the spring, where the Choices and Consequences program can be presented to a few local Bronx high schools. Our hope is to increase awareness and encourage more youth to make the right choices when it comes to teen driving.
[Benjamin: For a little while I used to compile a feature on Streetsblog called "Weekly Carnage" that showed the terrible toll in deaths, injuries, and property damage caused by auto accidents - many the result of drunk or reckless driving - in our New York Metro area. Go here to view it.]