Camps Teaches Teen about Importance of Traffic Safety

Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Daniel Heffner

Lynchburg, VA- They say, "Seeing is believing." One organization is putting that to the test this week at a special camp at Lynchburg College.

Youth of Virginia Speak Out, or YOVASO, is giving teens an up-close look at the sometimes tragic results of driving drunk, or while distracted. Tuesday night the teens witnessed a police checkpoint.

About 120 teens from all over the state are participating in YOVASO Camp. It is geared at empowering, educating and encouraging kids to drive safely. They also give them the tools to pass on the knowledge to their peers.

"We had a group of students there from YOVASO go over to a D.U.I. checkpoints so they could observe what the law enforcement officers do, and the important role they play in safe driving," said Mary King, program administrator for YOVASO.

It's one of many activities YOVASO participants will take part in this week to learn about traffic safety.

"We also try to encourage them to be involved, to speak out, and become an advocate and leader in their community," said King.

This up close approach doesn't stop at D.U.I. check points. YOVASO also uses graphic crash scenes to teach teens about the sometimes fatal repercussions of driving unsafe.

At Lynchburg College, YOVASO constructed a mock crash scene complete with fake blood, and crushed steel. The crash depicts a scene where a 17-year-old girl was killed because of an impaired driver. Teens in YOVASO say images like this do change their whole perspective.

"People hate riding with me, because I'm like, 'Don't text drive, and drive. Stop! Put your seatbelt on, stop doing that.' Even my friends have started to respond too. I look at the road so much differently," said Jessie Kincaid, a youth leader at YOVASO.

Since YOVASO started in 2007, the group has seen changes in teens statewide.

"The teen statistics have dropped every year. The last couple of years we've had a record low of 83 teens killed in crash. We really do feel like the peer-to-peer aspect is one of the main components that is making a difference," said King.

The teens will be here till Friday. By the way they do have fun between the traffic safety lessons. On Wednesday, they got to do run in an amazing race, and then they will held a talent show.

Get more information about YOVASO.