Concerns for their own safety and the safety of friends who regularly drive on Highway 101 in the Silver Creek community inspired members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) at Pepperell High School to request a meeting with the Georgia Department of Transportation to talk about solutions to safety concerns. The meeting was quickly facilitated by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and Teens in the Drivers Seat as the student group met with David Adams, systems administrator at the Georgia Department of Transportation, on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m.
“This is an outstanding group of students who want to make a difference,” said Alana Ellenburg, faculty advisor for the SADD organization at Pepperell High. “They did not just want to make a difference in school with their peers but they also want to make a difference in the community and that is why the students have taken on this challenge.”
The students presented a compelling argument for the need to improve safety on the road by outlining statistics of accidents and deaths on the stretch of highway that has long been known for traffic accidents. The group especially focused on head-on collisions and impacts caused by a vehicle crossing the center line. Statistics the students shared for Highway 101 in Floyd County showed that since 2010 the number of accidents on the road as 631 with 251 injuries and 4 fatalities. The statistics were provided by Floyd County Police records.
The teens proposed adding center strip rumble strips to the center of the road to alert drivers that their car was crossing the center line. The rumble strips are familiar to most drivers on the shoulder of interstate highways. The rumble strip creates noise and vibration as the car tires cross them and are dangerously close to running off of the roadways.
“This is exciting stuff as you have progressed from educating your peers on highway safety to finding actual engineering solutions to highway safety problems,” commented David Adams. “This is an excellent example of researching an issue and finding a positive solution.”
The students cited a 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that reported highways with the rumble strips reduced crossover crashes 18 to 64 percent with most showing a 40 to 60 percent reduction. The study also reported that rural roads like Highway 101 account for 60 percent of all fatalities.
The students went beyond their focus on Highway 101 to recommend installing rumble strips on any rural road with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour or greater. “This is impressive that you have looked beyond answers for just one highway,” added Adams. “You have expanded your scope beyond a single road’s safety aspect and expanded into shaping policy as you added other roads that should be impacted.”
The student presentation even shared their research on the cost of installing the rumble strips on the 8-mile section of Highway 101 in Floyd County. The students had priced the cost of the project from two companies and even had a time frame of how long it would take to complete the addition. Both companies estimated they could complete the work in one day.
Dr. Tony Daniel, Floyd County Board of Education member for the Pepperell area, attended the meeting and was impressed with the student presentation. “I am very proud of your work and your passion for this project,” Daniel said. “Not only do you show your passion for the safety of the community but you have invested the time to do the actual research to find a solution.”
Students participating in the presentation included Bailey Cordle, Heaven Forsyth, Brady Gladney, Jannah Phelps, Darby Morgan, Heaven Spain, and Breanna Smith. PHS SADD advisors are Alana Ellenburg and Laura Byrd.