Teens Steer the Course
On November 6, 1954, Delaware Safety Council, along with the Governor’s Highway Safety Committee, held the 1st Delaware Youth Conference on Traffic Safety in Dover in the Dover High School and Field House. It was the first of its kind in Delaware.
Keynote speaker for the conference was Miss Patricia Priest, the daughter of the Treasurer of the United States. She was recognized nationally for her outstanding contributions to safe driving among the youth of America.
The conference itself was organized and run by the students, offering six predetermined breakout session topics to discuss. Each session had a student Session Leader and a group of Student Delegates. The Moderator of the Delegates was the only adult, M. R. Darlington, Jr. Managing Director of Inter-Industry Highway Safety Committee in Washington, D.C.
The six session topics were: Role of Youth in Traffic Safety lead by Vincent Bifferato of Salesianum, Driving Attitudes lead by William Tulloch of Tower Hill School, Traffic Legislation lead by Connie Hart of Caesar Rodney High School, Hot Rods and Traffic Safety lead by Robert Stafford of A.I. DuPont High School, Driver Education lead by Howard Pierce of Seaford High School and Student Organization of Safe Driving Group lead by Neal Ramer of Seaford High School. All topics not only still relevant 68 years later, but issues to still be resolved on our roadways.
The Youth Chairman of the Youth Conference Committee was J.D. Reeder. Early in the planning phase, Mr. Reeder shared with a reporter from the then Delaware newspaper the Journal-Every Evening, “This must be a conference of, by and for the youth. Adults most of whom have lost the point of view of youth cannot successfully plan a conference of this nature.”
Over two-hundred delegates from forty-three high schools around the state attended the conference with the welcome address given by the Vice Mayor of Dover, Ralph Tischer. The Governor of Delaware, Caleb Boggs, gave the greeting and introduced the keynote, Patricia Priest.
The conference was held annually well into the 1970’s, according to Delaware Safety Council’s internal archives. Delaware Safety Council’s first safe teen driver program was in 1920. There are new teen drivers every year, and so the efforts and conversations of safe driving continue as does the over half a century partnership between Delaware Safety Council and Office of Highway Safety. Delaware Safety Council provides free DMV certified Defensive Driving courses to all Delawareans ages 16-25. To schedule teen safe driving programs, activities or presentations please call Delaware Safety Council offices at (302) 276-0660.
By Delaware Safety Council