Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in America, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Tyler Wheeler, a senior at Dawson County High School, said he is not going to be one of those statistics.
“They say one teen from Dawson County dies in a car accident each year,” he said. “I always wear my seat belt because it just prevents things that could mess up your life.”
On Friday, in recognition of National Teen Driving Safety Week, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, along with Safe Kids of Dawson County and Family Connection, awarded Wheeler for his commitment to safety with a $100 gift certificate to North Georgia Outfitters.
“We searched all week for a kid that was driving safe. We had noticed for the past few weeks that he always buckled up and drove safe,” said Lt. Tony Wooten of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office.
Wheeler said he plans to use the gift certificate to purchase hunting equipment.
He also thanked the group for watching out for him and his friends.
“I appreciate them checking on everybody and making sure we are wearing our seat belts, because that is very important,” Wheeler said.
Wooten said the “Caught Safe” Program, which awards safe teen drivers throughout the school year, has received positive response from the students.
“Obviously, we are going to still write seat belt tickets to those who choose not to buckle up, but we think we can accomplish just as much by trying to be positive in encouraging them to do the right thing,” he said.
Caught Safe is a collaborative effort sponsored by several groups and businesses in the community to encourage safe driving.
“We’d like to thank all the businesses that have made donations that allow us to award the kids who are driving safe,” Wooten said.
For more information or to support the program, call Wooten at (706) 344-3535.