Sayreville teacher rewarded for promoting safe driving

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Eric Sucar
Sophomore Brandon Costa tries his hand at the brand new driving simulator introduced at Jackson Memorial High School on January 20. The simulator is to help students learn to drive and understand the impact of distracted driving. Students won the simulator through a video contest for SADD.

SAYREVILLE — A teacher from Sayreville War Memorial High School (SWMHS) was honored during a special ceremony for her efforts to promote the proven principles of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), the state’s novice driver licensing program.

Genevieve Corrales, a Spanish teacher and supervisor of the SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Chapter at SWMHS, was named a 2016 GDL Champion on May 19.

Using SADD, the school’s largest club, as a vehicle to promote peer-to-peer behavior change and good decision-making behind the wheel, Corrales “talks up” safety throughout the high school and community, according to a statement prepared by the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition. Her passion for helping youth become traffic safety leaders extends beyond New Jersey as she has participated in six SADD national conferences that annually draw thousands of teens from across the U.S., the statement said.

Four 2016 GDL Champions joined with the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition, which organized the event, to call on parents to enforce the lifesaving provisions of the state’s GDL law and ensure that their teens are getting sufficient sleep during prom and graduation season and year-round before getting behind the wheel, according to the statement.

Since the GDL program took effect in New Jersey in 2001, the number of motor-vehicle-related teen driver and teen passenger deaths has fallen to record lows, according to the statement.

“Both of these restrictions are critical,” said Pam Fischer, leader of the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition, an initiative of The Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council.  “When a teen driver has three passengers in the car, the risk of crashing is nearly four times greater than when that teen is driving alone. Add nighttime driving to the mix, the most dangerous time for all motorists and especially teens, and that risk is exacerbated even more.”

But even more concerning is the potential for drowsy driving, which is likely to occur during late night and early morning hours, according to the statement.

“Teens and young adults are involved in more than half of drowsy driving crashes annually in the U.S.,” Fischer said. “Many teens are getting behind the wheel too tired to drive, but they do so anyway because they don’t want to miss out. The last month of school is particularly problematic since teens are busy trying to jam a million things, including prom and graduation activities, into their already busy schedules. It’s critical that parents monitor their teens’ extracurricular activities and make sure they aren’t forgoing sleep in order to do it all.”

To help parents understand New Jersey’s GDL program, the coalition developed the GDL Made Simple video and a list of frequently asked questions, which can be found at www.teensafedriving.org/nj/gdl.

The National Safety Council developed www.DriveitHOME.org to help parents become effective driving coaches. The website includes tips, driving lessons and a New Driver Deal, which parents and teens can use to develop household driving rules.