Editor's Note: Safe-driving pledges keep DHS in the game

Thanks to the votes of the community, DeKalb High School is, as they say, a contender.

DHS is one of more than 3,500 schools nationwide to participate in State Farm Insurance’s Celebrate My Drive competition. The top 10 schools – five in the small school category and five in the large school – will receive $100,000 in grant money. The top 90 runners-up are eligible for $25,000 grants.

As of this writing, on Monday morning, DHS was ranked No. 5 in the large school category. If they can hang on or move up, I’m sure there are plenty of projects that could use that cash infusion.

Anyone 14 and older can vote for DHS, and you can vote once a day through Oct. 26. If you’re reading this on Wednesday, you can still contribute four more votes. Winners will be announced Dec. 9.

You can vote at

The top two schools in the competition will also receive a concert by Kelly Clarkson, the first “American Idol” winner.

There is a little catch: your vote is actually a pledge. Under all its prizes and trappings, Celebrate My Drive is about safe, focused driving. When you vote, you pledge that you will follow the law and drive safely.

“We are sending a message about safe driving,” parent and drivers-ed teacher Mark Sykes told the Daily Chronicle last week. “You can be killed by driving and texting, and its not just you, it’s the other person, too. We want to win the concert, but we really want kids to be safe.”

Here are some facts about teen drivers, courtesy of State Farm and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

• Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teens. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are involved in fatal crashes at four times the rate of drivers ages 25 to 69.

• Most teen crashes are due to inexperience.

• Speed is a major factor in fatal teen crashes.

• Two-thirds of teens killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.

• The risk of a crash is four times higher when a driver is using a cell phone, regardless of whether it is hands-free.

• Teens are less likely than adults to get behind the wheel after drinking, but their risk of crashing under those circumstances is far greater.

• Being awake for 18 hours or longer has similar effects on a driver’s abilities as being legally drunk (blood-alcohol content of .08).

Prizes aside, we could all benefit from driving more safely and less distracted, and from setting an example for our young drivers. So go ahead and take the pledge.

And hey, the prizes don’t hurt.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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