(download high-res version)
The City of Greer received a Municipal Achievement Award
for its Alive at 25 drivers" education program
. Officials were presented with the award during the Municipal Association of South Carolina's 72nd Annual Meeting on June 30. The city won in the public safety category. Thirty-three cities and towns submitted their projects and initiatives.
In 2011, Greenville County ranked at the top of the state for most driving fatalities. Greer, a city where several driving fatalities involved teens, felt the impact deeply. Noting a dangerous trend of distracted or impaired teen driving, city leaders sought a way to reverse the trend.
Through its police department, Greer offers Alive at 25, a one-day driver education program targeting 15-24 year-old drivers. Alive at 25 is a program designed by the National Safety Council. The first Alive at 25 programs began in South Carolina in 2007. Since then, deaths among 15-24 year olds decreased 38 percent.
Greer went a step farther and partnered with two other municipalities (the towns of Duncan and Lyman) to purchase a Simulated Impaired Driving Experience package, the first of its kind in the state. During the interactive experience, young people get behind the wheel of a specially designed go-kart for a safe, effective experience of driving while distracted or impaired. The go-kart functions in two modes - normal and impaired. The vehicle responds to the driver's steering and breaking in normal mode. Once switched to the impaired mode, the driver experiences a slight delay in breaking, steering and accelerating.
To fund SIDNE, Greer used funds confiscated by the police department and matching contributions from the other two municipalities sharing the equipment.
Greer's municipal court uses Alive at 25 and SIDNE as alternative sentencing options for young traffic violators, and officers can offer completion of the program as a way to reduce a fine or dismiss a citation entirely.
When local media began reporting on the new system, requests to bring SIDNE to schools began pouring in. In fact, some schools require students attend the course before getting a school parking permit or include the program in the school's physical education curriculum. Greer officials also make the program available to community organizations.
"This public safety effort in the City of Greer is a great example of collaboration to save lives of young residents," said Miriam Hair, executive director for the Municipal Association.
These winning entries represent innovative projects undertaken by Municipal Association member cities and towns. The Municipal Association of South Carolina initiated the Achievement Awards in 1987 to recognize and encourage innovations and excellence in local government.
The Municipal Association of South Carolina is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit Association of incorporated cities and towns dedicated to raising the standards of municipal government through a broad range of services.