Fort Mill Times

Tire firm will sponsor driver safety course at Fort Mill schools

Continental Tire will announce Monday that it's sponsoring the Alive at 25 safe driving course at Nation Ford and Fort Mill high schools.

Alive at 25 was developed by the National Safety Council and is designed to prevent the No. 1 killer of teens – automobile crashes. The program is taught by off-duty deputy sheriffs and municipal police officers. Two Nation Ford students were killed in auto wrecks last fall.

The Fort Mill School Board recently voted to make the course mandatory for students who want to drive and park at either of the high schools.

The four-and-a-half-hour course focuses on the behaviors and decision-making processes that young drivers and passengers display behind the wheel.Statistics show teen drivers get in far more collisions and die far more often than any other age group of drivers, said Steve Deibel, traffic safety coordinator for the South Carolina Chapter of the National Safety Council. The council is a nonprofit group that administers the Alive at 25 program and charges a fee to pay for instructors and course materials.

The program, which costs students $35, teaches about seat belt use, the distractions of cell phones and text messaging, alcohol and drug use, speeding, weather, the distractions of passengers and other driving factors, has produced striking, positive results statewide since its inception in 2007, Deibel said.

Almost 19,000 people ages 15 to 24 have taken the class in high schools, technical colleges and in the court system in the past two years, Deibel said, with five fatalities afterward involving people who took the class. South Carolina has seen 570 fatalities for people in the same age group who hadn't taken Alive at 25, he said.