The U in the Driver Seat (UDS) program at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is holding its annual Peer-to-Peer Impaired Driving Prevention Symposium at Texas A&M University–San Antonio March 31–April 2, 2016 in the Central Academic Building, room 402. Statewide statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) between 2010 and 2015 indicate that crash-related deaths of young drivers (aged 18–24) driving under the influence ranged consistently from 190 to 200 deaths per year. In 2014, the statewide count rose to 220. In 2015, Bexar County alone saw a 30 percent increase in the fatality count over previous years.
“TTI is taking the lead in helping keep our college students safe on the roadway,” says John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “UDS is helping save young Texans by educating them about the dangers of driving under the influence. We are pleased that seven of our system universities are taking part in this growing program.”
In addition to their peers from other Texas colleges, representatives from Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M University–Kingsville, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University–San Antonio, West Texas A&M University and Texas A&M International University will come together to raise awareness of the consequences of driving under the influence.
“The statewide statistics bear out that college-aged drivers are dying unnecessarily on Texas highways,” states Russell Henk, manager of TTI’s Youth Transportation Safety Program. “Our annual symposium informs students about how impairment can negatively impact their driving skills and aims to improve those statistics by changing behaviors.”
The symposium will feature speakers, breakout sessions, and interactive activities targeted at convincing college-aged drivers in the San Antonio area and around the state of Texas that they have the power to lower those statistics — in effect, to save their own lives and the lives of other drivers and passengers on the road. Breakout sessions will, for example, address how students can take the lead on their local campuses to positively influence their peers and debunk myths associated with drugs and alcohol and their effects on drivers.
“I’m proud that Texas A&M–San Antonio is hosting this year’s symposium,” says U.S. Congressman Will Hurd, who represents Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. “The A&M System has a strong tradition of public service and I’m glad to see them tackle this important topic for our state. Programs such as U in the Driver Seat educate our young people by providing them with the information they need to protect themselves and their peers.”
Started in 2012, UDS promotes peer-to-peer education on the risks of impaired driving by giving college students tools and information to educate one another about the dangers of driving impaired. Each program is unique to the college where it’s located. UDS does not follow any set curriculum, which provides students the opportunity to personalize the program to their collegiate cultures and environments. Despite this diversity of application, the UDS program has one ultimate goal — to reduce the number of college students involved in car crashes. For more information, please visit http://www.u-driver.com/.
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