BOZEMAN – The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) reports that teen drivers represent approximately 10% of all traffic fatalities on Montana roadways.
The student-led group Family Career and Community Leaders of America received a grant from MDT in October to facilitate a traffic safety project.
“We have one of the highest fatality rates for teens in the US, so it’s not a position that Montana wants to be in. So that’s why it’s [time to] make a change Montana, it’s just to help educate kids to make positive decisions,” FCCLA Adviser Cathe Felz said.
“You can legislate, you can make seat belt laws, you can do all kinds of things. But until you change their way of thinking, nothing’s going to change,” she added.
From the silhouettes on the fence that represent teen lives lost on Montana roadways last year, to the decorated bulletin boards and locker magnets, some Three Forks students are aiming to make a difference in the community and educate their peers about the dangers of distracted driving.
“It’s impacted my sister when she drives. She is always on her phone so when I’m in the car with her I yell at her and tell her to get off her phone,” Three Forks freshman SaraJo Butterfield said.
This isn’t something new for Three Forks students.
“We’ve worked on teen traffic safety since 2004. We lost seniors in the fall of 2004; we lost three seniors and then their classmates started working on traffic safety,” Felz said. “We have been very lucky but schools around us have lost students in the last couple of years.“
“Just being on your phone or not putting on your seat belt can harm you or even kill you,” Butterfield said.
The students will be heading to the State Capitol in Helena on Tuesday to present their project and what they have been doing in their community.