We LOVE getting to highlight Club staff here on ClubX, but getting to highlight Club YOUTH is even more special! For Teen Driver Safety Week we are thrilled to bring you the stories of last year’s UPS Road Code Ambassadors, sharing what they’ve learned in the process.
Tragically, more than 2,000 teens aged 16–19 lost their lives in car crashes in 2019. Dialing a phone while driving increases teens’ risk of a crash by six times and texting while driving increases the risk 23 times. Adding to these startling statistics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports phone use when behind the wheel causes one in every five teen distracted driving fatalities. Additionally, 45 percent of teens killed in driving accidents were not wearing seat belts. Digital distractions along with failure to learn safe driving techniques have both contributed to motor vehicle crashes becoming the leading cause of death among teens in the United States.
To help keep teens safe on the road, the UPS Road Code program, now in its 12th year, educates teens on safe driving techniques and how to minimize distractions on the road. The program enables teens to drive change for themselves and their peers through a combination of classroom sessions and the use of a driving simulator. Online resources are also available for parents and teen drivers to prepare for the realities of the road. In 2016, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and UPS launched the UPS Road Code Ambassador Program, to develop advocates within the Boys & Girls Club Movement who serve as peer-to-peer influencers, encourage safe driving and share learnings from the UPS Road Code program. The ambassadorship is a year-long commitment beginning each October.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020-21 national ambassadors faced new challenges during their tenure, but their determination, commitment, and leadership of the Road Code program did not wane.
Hugo M, Boys & Girls Club of Morristown
Hugo entered the Boys & Girls Club of Morristown nearly 10 years ago and his Club was instrumental in the person who he is working become. At 17 his Club teen coordinator, Penny Knight, asked Hugo if he wanted to be part of their UPS Road Code class. At the time Hugo was preparing for his driving class, and he viewed the class as a great way to calm his nerves. “The class made me feel much more confident in myself,” explained Morales. “When you have never driven before you are nervous, but the tips our guest lecturer, Mr. Scott Knight gave helped me so much, and the texting and driving simulator was very helpful.”
Eventually, Hugo was encouraged to apply to become a UPS Road Code ambassador. He figured the program helped him so much with driving and being more prepared behind-the-wheel, so he was excited to apply. “I didn’t expect to win, so I was really excited to receive the honor and to see what I could do.”
Since Hugo is currently in college, he acknowledged it was more challenging to be an ambassador, but every time he had a break from school, he goes back to his Morristown Club to talk to the Club kids about the program. He has also had the opportunity to give guest lectures where he shared personal stories that reflected those in the UPS Road Code curriculum. One of Hugo’s milestones as an ambassador was spreading awareness about the Road Code program to the Hispanic community. “Since there are occasional challenges because of the language barriers, I provided a bilingual translation and wrote a blog to help them understand.”
As he wraps up his ambassadorship, Hugo explains that the program will have a lifelong impact on him. “There was a moment recently with my mom when she was driving to Knoxville, and she would put herself in semi-dangerous situations. I told her to drop her speed and not be walled off by trucks. She’s still relatively new to driving and she took my suggestions really well.”
Daniela P, West Valley Boys & Girls Club
Daniela P. walked into the West Valley Boys & Girls Club in 9th grade, quickly got involved with Keystone and fell in love with the Club. A few years ago, she took the Road Code program quiz, and although she had a lot of fun with the examples, Daniela acknowledged her first time on the driving simulator was a learning experience. But she put work in now she regularly “spits facts on safe driving.”
Shortly after taking Road Code, she got into a car accident with her aunt. They were returning home from a great day and a car swerved into them. Fortunately, Daniela knew to stay calm, take pics of the accident, exchange insurance information, and contact information. When she and her aunt returned home, they talked about the need for everyone to be more attentive, and she’s become a huge advocate of the Road Code program and safe driving.
“I’m constantly trying to implement what I learned from UPS Road Code,” said Daniela. “I remind my dad to put on his seatbelt, I tell friends to slow down, and I send them texts to not drink and drive. Although I don’t have my license yet, the program gave me a chance to amplify my voice and impact kids at the Club and educate more people – older and younger – even my parents. Now, I can say something that could potentially help save someone’s life.”
As an ambassador, Daniela couldn’t do an in-person event because of COVID-19, so instead they created a virtual fair using Club resources, created bingo sheets, they would post documents and PSAs they created along with a link to the UPS Road Code quiz.
Daniela learned a lot during through her ambassadorship and the impact the Road Code has had on her life is even greater. “Don’t be afraid to really speak up and know you can reach people. Be proud of your voice and be confident in what you can teach. Don’t be afraid to ever speak up, because it isn’t weird to tell someone to put their seatbelt on – not when it can save their life.”
And a HUGE CONGRATS to the newly named 2021-22 UPS Rode Code Ambassadors Kameleonalani D. of BGC Maui and Asha B. of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base!!!! We can’t wait to see the impact you make this year. Kameleonalani and Asha each receive a $5,000 BGCA scholarship, and the rest of the 2021-22 UPS Rode Code local ambassadors will receive a $100 award for their service in promoting the program in their communities.
To learn more about running UPS Rode Code at your Club, visit BGCA.net. Be sure to check out the newly redesigned UPS Rode Code Challenge 2.0 to test your knowledge of road safety PLUS be eligible to win prize packs for your Club! Learn more and download the social media toolkit at BGCA.net.