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Traffic Safety Summit to be held

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Ellis County Commissioner Dennis Robinson is encouraging citizens to participate in a free Traffic Safety Summit scheduled for Thursday, Nov.15, at the Richardson Civic Center from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

'I know that's a bit of a drive, but I think it will be worth it,' Robinson said. 'This is a topic that is of importance to all of us and the summit should be very informative.'

Sponsored by Citizens for Traffic Safety of Greater Dallas, the North Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Committee, the American Society of Safety Engineers - Southwest Chapter, the Texas Transportation Institute, and the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas, the summit aims to 'bring an interdisciplinary approach to identifying key changes that need to occur in order to prevent wrecks involving teens.'

Speakers include Dallas Sheriff's Department Chief Gary Lindsey, Russell Henk and Val Pezoldt of the Texas Transportation Institute, Sarah Pahl of Drug Prevention Resources, Robert Wunderlich of the City of Garland, and State Representative Joe Driver. State Senator Royce West has been invited to speak on legislation to address teen driving issues.

'One of the topics that is really of interest to me is a program called ‘Teens in the Driver Seat,'' said Robinson.

'This is a program that could be started in any school district, and from what I've read, it is very successful.'

The program is a peer-driven educational program that seeks to teach teens about the most likely causes of teen traffic deaths and how to avoid them.

The top five contributing factors are driving at night, distractions (like cell phones and friends in the car), speeding, failure to wear a seat belt, and alcohol consumption.

'I'm sure most parents are already warning their kids about these kind of things,' said Robinson.

'But what's different about the TDS program is that it has kids talking to kids, and sometimes they are more willing to listen that way.'

Robinson praised the work of Ellis County's school districts in offering programs like 'Shattered Dreams.'

'That is a strong program that really has an impact on the kids,' he said. 'But it is also a very expensive program. TDS has the potential to create the same kind of positive impact with less of a drain on local budgets.

'I really hope that a number of people from Ellis County will be able to attend the meeting,' Robinson added.

'Ellis County isn't getting any smaller. There are more people moving in every day, and that means more drivers on the roads, and many of them are teens.'

There is no cost to attend the Traffic Safety Summit, but registration is required to allow organizers to plan space and food.

To register, contact David Beveridge at dbever@parknet.pmh.org or phone 214-590-4455 or fax 214-590-4469.

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