City of Ukiah, California

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Teen Driver Safety Week

Do you remember how you felt when you passed your driver’s test and drove a car by yourself for the first time? It is one of those memories we just don’t forget, that feeling of freedom.

But with the excitement, being a new driver brings along a number of important concerns: new rules, new responsibilities, and new choices to struggle with.

And sometimes, teen drivers don’t make the best choices.

In 2011, 58 percent of teen drivers killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt, and every 22 minutes someone dies in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident, with teenagers being especially vulnerable.

That’s why it’s so important we do all we can to educate teen drivers to prevent these unnecessary deaths.

To that end, I want to tell everyone about National Teen Driver Safety Week, which takes place October 18 - 26, 2013.

During this week, the Ukiah Police and Fire Departments are joining the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in teaming up with Ukiah High School and State Farm Insurance Agent Jay Epstein to participate in the “Celebrate My Drive” campaign.

Getting a driver’s license is an exciting rite of passage. As teens celebrate the freedom that comes with earning a driver’s license, Celebrate My Drive emphasizes the positives associated with making safe choices behind the wheel.

What’s really great about participating in this program is that everyone who signs a safety commitment can help Ukiah High School win up to $100,000, and possibly bring a chart-topping music artist to perform a concert right here in Ukiah. The more students, parents and friends that make a commitment towards driving safe at Celebrate My Drive, the greater the chance Ukiah High School has at receiving these funds.

Schools win these funds based upon the number of teenagers – and adults – who make a safety commitment. Participating is simple: log onto, indicate you want to support Ukiah High School, and commit to drive safely!

Everyone can make a safe driving commitment once a day, every day, between October 18 and 26. The more safe driving commitments our community makes, the better chance Ukiah High School has to win $100,000 and host the concert.

Getting a driver’s license is one of the greatest joys in a young person’s life, but the first year behind the wheel can be one of the most dangerous. Knowing what the most common driving errors are and finding ways to prevent them before a collision occurs is very important.

A recent study found that 75 percent of serious teen crashes were due to a critical teen driver error, with three common errors accounting for nearly half of all serious crashes: 

  • Driving too fast for road conditions
  • Being distracted
  • Failing to detect a hazard 

To reduce teenage accidents, parents can help teens understand these safety points:

  • Speed management – This includes always following the speed limit, as well as knowing when to adjust your speed: in congested zones and residential areas, during inclement weather, and on poorly lit roads.
  • Recognizing and avoiding distractions – This means limiting the number of peer passengers, having a no cell phone or electronic device rule, and lowering radio volume.
  • Scanning for hazards – This involves observing the surroundings far ahead of the vehicle and side-to-side, so that you have sufficient warning to react and avoid a potential crash.

Celebrate My Drive was created to share the belief that safe driving is a lifelong commitment from the start. Since the program began, thousands of people–students, families, and friends–have made that commitment to drive safe, and so can you!

Remember, during the week of October 18-26, we are asking the Ukiah community to make safe driving commitments on behalf of Ukiah High School. The more commitments we get, the better our chances of winning a grant for Ukiah High School and maybe even a concert with Kelly Clarkson.

The Ukiah High School Principal says that he’s likely to be able to divide the money among the student classes (e.g., for their senior trip), school sports, and other organized school activities. We all know that our schools are struggling to provide safe after school activities for every student, and these grant funds would really help towards that purpose.

Celebrate My Drive is an opportunity for us to rally around our young drivers and encourage them to make safe driving choices every time they are behind the wheel. Automobile crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teens and we need to change that. If we can reinforce habits like remembering to think whenever teens drive, keeping two eyes on the road and two hands on the wheel,  we will save lives together.

Please join us during the week of October 18-26 and make a daily commitment to safe driving at

As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website:  

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Safety · Professionalism · Community Service