Coaches Care: A Game Plan for Talking to Student Athletes About Highway Safety and New York's Driving Laws
As a coach, you're looked up to and respected by your players. They trust you to provide guidance and instruction that will help them succeed both on and off the field. Including every member of your team - players, coaches, managers, parents, and fans - in the discussion is critical for ensuring that it's not only a winning season, but a safe one.
Here are ways to get the word out:
- Include text about adhering to highway safety laws and Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) provisions, whether a driver or a passenger, in your team's code of conduct that spells out penalties for non-compliance.
- Meet with your team captains and coaches to review the basics of highway safety, the GDL program, and the text in your code of conduct. Reinfornce their role not only as leaders on the field, but on the road. Make it clear that coaches and captains will be expected to serve as role models and report violations.
- Attend a parent or booster club meeting prior to the start of the season to review the basics of highway safety and the GDL program, stressing that their sons' and daughters' safety, both on and off the field, is your top priority.
- Regularly remind players and parents to make arrangements for transportation if there are games or practices that could necessitate driving between 9pm and 5am.
- Partner with your local police department to reinforce student athlete compliance with the GDL program and all motor vehicle laws.
For more information on New York State's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program, visit the NYS DMV website.
“As educators we spend countless hours teaching students math, science, etc. and other life skills. However, none of that matters if they are tragically killed in a motor vehicle crash because of a poor decision. Data shows that one of the biggest inﬂuencers of teens is their athletic coach. As a coach, YOU have the power to connect with these kids. Please consider spending just a small amount of time with your team discussing traffic safety to show that Coaches Care.”
- GTSC Assistant Commissioner, Charles R. DeWeese
Remember the "5 to Drive"
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "5 to Drive" campaign highlights the five necessary rules that teen drivers need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel. These rules address the greatest dangers for teen drivers: alcohol, texting, seat belts, speeding, and extra passengers.
- No Drinking and Driving.
Set a good example by not driving after drinking. Remind teens that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix regardless of your age.
- Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back.
Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time you're in the car, teens are more likely to follow suit. Remind teens that it's important to buckle up on every trip, no matyter how far or how fast.
- Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.
Remind teens about the dangers of texting or dialing while driving, and that the phone i soff-limits when they are on the road. It's equally important to model safe driving habits for your teen - you shouldn't text or drive either.
- Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.
Drive the speed limit and require teens to do the same. Explain that every time your speed doubles, stopping distance quadruples.
- No More Than One Passenger At A Time.
With each passenger in the vehicle, a teen's risk of a fatal crash goes up.
More information about teen driver safety can be found at dmv.ny.gov and safeny.ny.gov.