Teens conducting ‘road safety audit’

Nearly 375 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents in the Tampa area every year (2,399 statewide), and a group of Tampa-area teenagers wants to make a difference by making their local roadways safer to ultimately improve that statistic, according to the American Road and Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA).

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, a group of 10 Middleton High School students will conduct a “Road Safety Audit” near their high school (4801 N. 22nd Street), following roadway safety briefing and orientation by representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and other roadway safety experts.

Students will examine how infrastructure improvements, such as better and brighter signage, more visible pavement markings, guardrails, or other safety features can help make roadways safer.

The messages of don’t text or drink while driving, or wear your seatbelts are all critical messages and actions, as is awareness of the dangers that exist on our roadways,” said Rudy Umbs, retired Federal Highway Administration chief highway safety Engineer, who will lead the orientation and then guide the students during the audit. “We hope to demonstrate to these students how to make roads safer, and how to help improve the existing roadway for all motorists.”

Peter Hsu, FDOT District safety and special projects engineer, who will also participate in the audit, adds: “Locally, the ‘Teen Roadway Safety Assessment and Infrastructure Safety Program’ helps teens learn how to identify roadway safety issues when they are walking, biking or travelling in cars. It’s a great safety awareness program for teenagers,” said

Following the audit, the students will travel to the Tampa Convention Center, the site of the American Traffic Safety Services Association’s (ATSSA) Annual Convention and Traffic Expo, to tour the exhibit hall and to learn even more about roadway safety. Hundreds of roadway safety devices and features will be on display at the Convention Center during the Feb. 14-16 convention – the largest convention of its kind in North America.

The audit is being sponsored by the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and the American Traffic Safety Services (ATSS) Foundation. NOYS, headquartered in Gainesville, Va., promotes youth empowerment and leadership and builds partnerships to save lives and prevent injuries while promoting safe and healthy lifestyles among all youth. The ATSS Foundation’s parent organization, ATSSA, is headquartered in Fredericksburg, Va., is an international trade association whose members manufacture and install roadway safety devices. ATSSA also trains work zone workers nationally.

More on Road Safety Audits can be found at www.roadwaysafetyaudits.org.