The hard and unforgiving rules of the road

| 22 Feb 2012 | 02:05

    M-W High School hosts program for young drivers and their parents on Oct. 19, By MJ Goff Monroe - If you Googled the question, “what is the leading cause of death among teenagers,” you’ll find a long list of sites, all with the same answer: Motor vehicle crashes. Now, more than ever, teenagers are distracted behind the wheel. And now, more than ever, teens - and their parents - need to attend the Preventing Teen Fatalities Behind The Wheel program, happening at the Monroe-Woodbury High School on Tuesday, Oct. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. They will hear from expert members from our community who are putting their care into action. You’ll meet: Chris Devitt, a teen driver at the time he was involved in a fatal crash in Walden that caused the death of his best friend, Bryan. His story is riveting and does not hold back. Discussing “social hosting” is Steve I. Milligram, a lawyer who will bring attention to the wide-reaching repercussions of this troubling activity. Hear from Forrest Strauss, Monroe Village Justice and past president of the Orange County Bar Association who will discuss some of the cases he has seen involving teen drinking, speeding and other cell phone related convictions. “In my experiences,” Strauss said, “I have seen the aftermath of lawsuits involving teen drivers. It’s the parents who suffer. I’ve seen parents lose their house, their retirement savings because of the action of their child. “Parents need to understand this as much as their teen drivers,” the judge added. Free program available to many groups Preventing Teen Fatalities Behind the Wheel is sponsored by Stand Together, Inc., which was formed to educate new teen drivers and their parents about the challenges and distractions they face when behind the wheel of a car. This free program is available to high schools, youth groups, driver’s ed programs, religious institutions, and any other place where young teens and their parents can sit down together. The program was formed by Laurie Salkin, personal lines client manager at William A. Smith & Son, Inc., who is the mother of one teen driver, and another one about to start. “I was at a teen driving presentation for my company, and this subject really struck a chord with me,” she recalled. “I knew I wanted to do something similar, and it’s been wonderful working with Chris, and the other distinguished gentlemen who have volunteered to appear whenever this program is offered.” Impact Allison Schlegel is a 17-year-old senior at Goshen High School who has been driving for just over a year. She attended the Preventing Teen Fatalities Behind the Wheel program when it was presented at her school and believed it left an impression on the other students as well. “I think this program really highlighted just how devastating one seemingly innocent, split-second decision can be,” she said. “Some of the stories told and experiences shared left quite an impression, but I’d have to say one of the most powerful parts of the program was one of the videos presented about a car full of friends texting while driving; and the fatal, chain reaction accident they caused. “It was difficult to watch,” she added. Essential information The free program, Preventing Teen Fatalities Behind The Wheel, will be held Tuesday, Oct. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Momroe-Woodbury High School. For more information about the program, contact Laurie Salkin at William A. Smith & Son: 845-561-1706 ext. 221 (for bookings, etc.). Contact Rebecca Thomas, Monroe-Woodbury PTSA president, at 845-521-4497 for questions about the program at Monroe-Woodbury High School.