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Safe teen driving could mean big reward
Concert from 'Idol' winner awaits top participants in Celebrate My Drive
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A nationwide initiative to promote safe teen driving resonates particularly strongly in Effingham County.

Both of Effingham County’s high schools are participating in Celebrate My Drive, a program State Farm Insurance is sponsoring for National Teen Driver Safety Week. Through this Saturday, students, parents, faculty, staff and community members can log onto and make a pledge to stay safe on the road.

The two high schools in the U.S. with the highest number of safe driving commitments will receive the grand prize, a concert by Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson. Ten schools will win $100,000 grants and 90 others will receive $25,000 grants.

"Anytime we can focus our efforts on the safety of our kids, it's an initiative worth doing," said Effingham County High School principal Yancy Ford. "We must continue to implement safety initiatives that will help them be successful."

Several Effingham County teenagers have died in car wrecks in recent years. Local State Farm agents hope the positive message and friendly competition of Celebrate My Drive will encourage Effingham County and South Effingham high school students and supporters to sign up.

“I think more (teen driver) education is the key,” said Sundi Williamson, a State Farm agent in Rincon. “I just see this as a huge opportunity.”

Just last month, South Effingham High School senior Lacey Longworth died in a sport utility vehicle crash on Bay Road. The driver, her brother and SEHS alumnus Henry Longworth, was seriously injured and died three days later.

“In Effingham County, we have had too many teenagers injured and killed in car accidents where teenagers were driving,” said SEHS principal Mark Winters. “When a teenager dies, it is devastating for family, friends, teachers and our community. If we influence teenagers to think about safety before getting in a car as a driver or a passenger, then we can prevent the death and devastation that is all too familiar in Effingham County.”

State Farm representatives set up a tent at the South Effingham football game last Friday night to encourage students to sign up for Celebrate My Drive, and will do the same this Friday night at the Effingham County High game. Since most teenagers are active on social media, State Farm encourages them to help spread the word through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Williamson said.

“Every parent and teacher was once 17 and invincible. It is our job to help our children see that the feeling of being young and invincible is in reality very dangerous,” Winters said. “We want them to be safe and grow into adults who have a healthy respect for driving and the responsibility to act wisely.”

Celebrate My Drive
Go to by Oct. 26 and sign a safe driving pledge on behalf of Effingham County High School or South Effingham High School. The two high schools in the U.S. with the most commitments will receive a concert by Kelly Clarkson. Ten schools will win $100,000 grants and 90 others will receive $25,000 grants.