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DECA Accelerates ‘S.A.F.E.’ Driving Organization

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Seniors Michele Corredor and Tanaya Martinez have founded “Drive S.A.F.E.,” a DECA project with a solemn goal: to spread the dangers of distracted driving so they become common knowledge, rather than haunting afterthoughts.

“Everyone knows about the dangers of distracted driving, but they don’t really understand them until they affect them,” Corredor said.

Corredor said she was inspired to begin “Drive S.A.F.E.” after four of her senior peers suffered a car crash. Martinez said she felt this event was an opportunity to prevent similar accidents.

“We are passionate about our cause,” Martinez said. “There is a lot of passion behind our ‘Drive S.A.F.E.’ work.”

Corredor said each letter in ‘S.A.F.E’ corresponds to a driving danger: seatbelts and speeding, alcohol, friends and phones, and educational and emotional distractions.

“This month, we collaborated with the Fairfax County police to set up a Taste of Robinson booth about alcohol,” Corredor said. “Students could wear ‘beer goggles’ in an obstacle course to see its effect. We also had pledges students could sign to promise that they would not drive drunk.”

Corredor and Martinez said they made heavy use of social media to promote “Drive S.A.F.E.” Prominent among their promoted activities were ‘seatbelt selfies.’

“‘Selfies’ were a way for students to show that they wore a seatbelt by capturing the moment, because most students take car pictures anyways,” Corredor said. “We got some negative comments from people who thought we wanted students to actually take ‘selfies’ while driving. This is not the case.”

Senior Paula Bobsin, one of the four girls whose accident inspired “Drive S.A.F.E.,” said she has a deeper appreciation for the organization than she might have had had she not been involved in the crash.

“This is really important to me because most kids aren’t reminded of safe driving after taking drivers’ ed,” Bobsin said. “I might have blown [“Drive S.A.F.E.”] off if the accident had not happened. Because it was a scary experience, I realized I need to pay more attention to small things like safe driving, because small things affected how we survived.”

Martinez said she and Corredor hope to enter “Drive S.A.F.E.” in DECA competitions later this year.

“‘Drive S.A.F.E.’ started as an idea for DECA, and it was obvious we needed to do it [after our friends’ accident],” Martinez said. “Since we’re running this organization through DECA, we can compete with it at the state level, then move on to the international level if it wins.”

Corredor said the most rewarding part of “Drive S.A.F.E.” is seeing the positive feedback online.

“People give us compliments on Twitter, and some even send us stories about their own driving experiences,” Corredor said. “They take our organization seriously, and so do we.”

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