High school football draws huge crowds of teenagers, and the Abby’s Angels Foundation aims to help them get home safely.
The foundation is partnering with Grady Hospital’s Injury Prevention Program to bring “Friday Night Lights, Safe Teen Driver Nights” to upcoming football games at local high schools, beginning Friday at The Heritage School.
Parents and students will be encouraged to try out Grady’s distracted driving simulator and “drunk goggles.” The goggles simulate the effects of impairment, including reduced alertness, slowed reaction time, confusion, visual distortion, alteration of depth and distance perception, reduction of peripheral vision, poor judgment and decision making, double vision, and lack of muscular coordination.
The events are meant to be positive and proactive, according to organizers. Students who sign a safe driving pledge on a large banner at each game will be eligible for prizes, including gas cards, car washes, oil changes, restaurant gift cards and free enrollment in the foundation’s monthly accident avoidance course.
“The high school will then keep the banner for the year as it will be a visual to the students that they signed and pledged to drive safe,” said Natalie Bacho, who founded Abby’s Angels Foundation in memory of her daughter, Abby.
Abby Bacho passed away in 2012 after a wreck caused by a distracted teenager.
“We don’t want any family to live the life we’ve been forced to live,” said Bacho during a recent meeting of the Coweta Collaborative.
Car wrecks are the leading cause of teen and adult fatalities every year. Drivers ages 16-17 are nearly nine times more likely to have an accident than middle-aged drivers, Bacho told those attending the Coweta Collaborative meeting. Teenagers are more likely to underestimate or not recognize dangerous driving conditions, and 61 percent of teenagers admit to risky driving habits, Bacho said.
“We want to change the statistics,” Bacho said.
In addition to its programs advocating teen driver safety, Abby’s Angels Foundation also provides school supplies and other necessities through Abby’s Closets in local schools.
T-shirts will be for sale to help share awareness about safe driving and National Teen Driver Safety Week, which is Oct. 21-17 this year.
In addition to Friday at The Heritage School, events will be held Oct. 5 at Trinity Christian School vs. Landmark; Oct. 19 at Northgate High School; and Nov. 2 at East Coweta vs. Newnan.
(Times-Herald staff writer Jeffrey Cullen-Dean contributed to this story.)