PUBLISHED: 3:52 PM on Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Yakutat, Haines schools receive safe driving grant
High school students at Yakutat School were among the dozens of schools across the Pacific Northwest that have earned more than $125,000 in grants from State Farm Insurance to educate their peers and the community about the dangers of driving.

In all 47 schools were awarded "Shift Into Safety" grants from the northwest's largest auto insurer. The company this fall offered school grants of $2,000 to $5,000 to craft campaigns to help change teens' thinking - and behavior-behind the wheel. Yakutat teacher and technology coordinator Ken Caron led a student team in applying for the grant, and Yakutat was awarded a $3,200 grant for their "Don't Be a Dummy" safe driving campaign.

Teacher Lillian Boron led a student team in Haines and was awarded a $5,000 grant to purchase a computerized driving simulator to help students learn to safely navigate a wide range of driving situations.

The winning "Shift Into Safety" grant projects focus on speeding, distractions, aggressive driving, seat belts, impaired driving, and several other critical safety issues for teen drivers. State Farm looked for campaigns that would motivate young drivers to think first and foremost about getting to their destinations safely and to change their behaviors accordingly.

"We're thrilled with the response to 'Shift Into Safety,' said Harold Gray, State Farm's senior vice president for the Pacific Northwest zone.

"We think this message of safe driving is best carried to teens by their peers, and these innovative projects will do just that."

State Farm offered the "Shift Into Safety" grants to high schools within its six-state Pacific Northwest Zone-Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Eighty-five schools applied, and State Farm presented 47 grant checks.

Statistics show young drivers are four times more likely to get into a car crash than older drivers. And the risk is especially high for 16-year-olds.