Advocating for Teen Driver Safety
Noah, age 18, is passionate about traffic safety. He attends Johnson & Wales University — Denver, where he studies business administration and serves as the administrative vice president of the Student Government Association. He also interns at Brent’s Place, a home for immune-compromised children. Below, he shares his experiences advocating for teen driver safety.
How did you become a youth advocate for teen driver safety?
When I was a sophomore in high school, I was asked by the National Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA)(link is external) to be a member of the FCCLA/AT&T “It Can Wait” Youth Panel. They were looking for a diverse group of passionate students, and I fit this description because of my previous leadership work as an FCCLA officer in the state of Michigan. I agreed to be on this panel because I was looking for a way to help others. I figured that there was no better way to give back than to help eliminate teen-distracted driving deaths and possibly save thousands of lives.
The panel’s main objective is to educate our peers about the issues of texting while driving. As part of this panel, I worked in a team-brainstorming setting in Reston, Va., the location of FCCLA. I also spoke on the steps of Michigan’s Capitol building to advocate for Kelsey’s Law — a law that would ban the use of all mobile devices by beginning drivers who hold only a learner’s permit, not a full license.
What else have you done to promote this cause?
In 2013, I was invited to the kickoff event of the National Organizations for Youth Safety’s (NOYS)(link is external) annual Global Youth Traffic Safety Month. While there, I was introduced to everything that NOYS stands for, including its passion and competence when it comes to saving lives and ending teen-distracted driving. I completely bought into the idea. I felt that advocating for traffic safety was my passion and that NOYS would be the place for me to do so. I then applied for a position as a peer mentor, someone who helps youth plan and execute teen driver safety summits in their hometowns. As a peer mentor in 2014, I attended NOYS’s annual Teen-Distracted Driving Youth Prevention Summit and Global Youth Traffic Safety Month event. At both of these wonderful events, I advocated on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., spoke out for the cause, collected signatures from people that pledged not to text while driving, and helped to educate and mentor my peers. I also met with members of Congress and staff from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to discuss what I do to help end teen-distracted driving.
After that first fantastic experience as a peer mentor, I decided that I would re-apply. I was selected again and went to the Teen-Distracted Driving Youth Prevention Summit in October 2014. I plan to continue my journey as an advocate for safe driving among teens. However, I know that the best way to do so is to lead by example. I have become extremely passionate about this issue over the past three years, and I am always ecstatic to share my experiences with others. Unlike many who advocate for traffic safety, I have not had any negative personal experiences, such as losing a loved one in an accident caused by distracted driving. I do not see a need for anyone to have to experience such an atrocity as losing a loved one, so I wish to continue the fight until nobody experiences it anymore. I would never want to experience a loss in my family due to unsafe driving, so if I can prevent just one accident and save just one life, my mission will be complete.
How can others advocate for change like you?
Many people ask how they can get involved, and I always tell them to make sure that they are doing what they feel passionate about, because if one does not feel passionate about a subject, it will be hard for him or her to persuade others. There are thousands of opportunities to get involved at the local, state, and national levels. I always recommend that a person seek out NOYS because it has an outstanding staff, and members care deeply about the issue of teen driver safety and will always find a way for someone new to get involved. If you know your passion and follow your dreams, you will make a positive difference in the world.