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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Senior Jachman launches teen driving initiative

Students+present+slideshows+they+have+created+for+Midtown+health+classes+about+safe+driving.
Courtesy of Diana Jachman
Students present slideshows they have created for Midtown health classes about safe driving.

Thousands of teens die every year because of distracted driving car accidents. This has led senior Diana Jachman to partner with Impact Teen Drivers, a national nonprofit with a mission to lessen the number of teen deaths by car, and raise awareness to distracted teen driving at Midtown.

“My project’s a partnership with [Impact Teen Drivers], and I am in the process of planning on doing small service projects throughout the school to educate our peers about the dangers of distracted driving,” Jachman said. “One of the bigger things that I’m planning on doing is doing presentations to health classes throughout the year because that’s part of the health curriculum.”

Alison Sorscher, Impact Teen Drivers’ operations director, has been working for Impact for 15 years and has seen the dangers teens face when driving. 

“Reckless and distracted driving continues to be the number one cause of serious injury in fatality for young people in America, for teens and young adults,” Sorscher said. “It’s an issue that disproportionately affects young people, and it doesn’t need to be that way. Reckless and distracted driving is 100 percent preventable. We can make the choices to be safer drivers and safer passengers.”

The organization works to educate new drivers to prevent these deaths. 

“As high schoolers learn to drive, they’re in this really important period to gain experience safely,” Sorscher said. “This is the time when we’re following graduated driver licensing laws, driving with a parent or a guardian to get that safe experience. This is kind of a critical moment to take advantage of the systems that are in place to build lifelong habits that will help keep everyone on the road safer.”

This issue is personal for Jachman, following the loss of her cousin. 

“My freshman year, my cousin Laney was in a car accident,” Jachman said. “She was driving with a friend, and she was out of the sunroof, and she fell out. Her friend was on her phone filming a TikTok.”

Jachman said she was inspired to spread awareness in Georgia after seeing the work her family had done in California. 

“My aunt and uncle started a foundation in her name that provides students with scholarships,” Jachman said. “With the start of that foundation, they partnered with Impact Team Drivers and began a golf tournament in her name that serves as a fundraiser, as well. When I attended the golf tournament over the summer, I got in contact with Impact, and they didn’t have anyone in Georgia doing any work, and I was looking for something extra, and this is something that I’m really passionate about.”

In her daily life, Jachman said she encourages her friends to be safe drivers.

“Ever since the accident, I’ve been really passionate about telling my friends and my peers to be safe while [they] drive because it’s just the one time that you screw up that can ruin it,” Jachman said.

Because Jachman only started this project her senior year, she said she is unsure how it may stay affiliated with Midtown. For now, she is connecting with younger students to continue spreading awareness when she’s gone. 

“My main goal is to establish the foundation so that the project can continue into the future,” Jachman said. “I am just laying the groundwork right now. I have younger students who are working with me and that would be willing to continue it next year and recruit more people.” 

Jachman has partnered with the 21st-Century Leaders Club to give students incentives to join her cause. 

“By participating in this project, you earn community service hours, and that’s something we all need to graduate,” Jachman said. “I hope that students are able to earn community service hours through this project. ”

While everyone may not have a direct relation to the cause, Jachman urges awareness to prevent more accidents from occurring. 

“Others should care because almost 4,000 teens die because of distracted driving-related car accidents,” Jachman said. “So, whether they’re a passenger, or they’re the ones driving, it doesn’t make a difference. People need to be safe in cars, and it’s something that impacts all of us. Especially since we are always on our phones, we don’t wanna see our peers get hurt. We don’t want other families to have to go through this.

Sophomore Madilyn Wachlin joined Jachman to help carry on the project. 

“It’s easy things that we could all do to prevent it,” Wachlin said. “Things like buckling up, not having music too loud, not going on your phone. It’s easy, preventable things that have caused so many problems and so many tragedies that could have been prevented. And I think if teenagers were more aware, they wouldn’t make these mistakes because they’re not that hard to make.” 

One of Jachman’s goals for the project is to get more people involved. 

“I think the best way my project’s going to get done is by recruiting more people and really spreading the word and making sure that students are getting educated,” Jachman said. “It’s also about getting more people on board allowing us more ideas for how we want to work on this project.” 

Jachman said she hopes to use the project to benefit the school, as well as students. 

“We are possibly going to be participating in the Create Real Impact contest, which is a contest that’s run through Impact Teen Drivers,” Jachman said. “By winning this contest, we’re able to get, I think up to $10,000 as a grant to the school. That could be used towards scholarships or whatever other clubs we need. None of this is set in stone yet, but we’re planning on possibly speaking with middle schools. Impact has presentations already crafted for middle school-aged students, so possibly going to speak to middle schools.”

Jachman currently has a few projects in the works to begin spreading awareness. 

“I’m primarily working on is a video sharing my story about my cousin, and then showing that as part of my presentation to health classes,” Jachman said. “I’m also creating another presentation that’s slightly shorter that can be shown to the whole school through SEL or something like that in April, which is distracted driving awareness month.”

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About the Contributor
Megan Scarano
Megan Scarano, Lifestyle Managing Editor
Megan Scarano is a senior and this is her third year on staff for the Southerner. She plays soccer at Midtown and is very excited for this year.

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