FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2018
Safe driving campaign beginning Thursday, April 19
WETUMPKA, Ala. – Beginning Thursday, April 19, a safe driving campaign will begin along U.S. Highway 231 beginning at Redland Road to Alabama Highway 14 and on Alabama Highway 14 in front of Wetumpka High School.
The family of Austin Augustine, with the support of the Wetumpka High School Theatre Guild and the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department, are pleased to present this safe driving campaign to coincide with the Wetumpka High School Theatre Guild’s spring production of “Footloose”.
“The family of Austin Augustine want all to know that we care about your safety. Although we do know speed and lack of seatbelt use were factors, only those involved really know the exact details of the horrific November 23, 2014, Fire Tower Road accident where so many lives were changed forever. Unfortunately, three 16-year-old Wetumpka High School Juniors, including Austin Augustine, and an Elmore County Sheriff’s Deputy died as a result of the wreck. The only survivor of the wreck was wearing a seat belt. Our goal is to turn our hurt into education for others as we encourage drivers to be safe and observe the rules of the road,” said Beverly Eddy, the aunt of Austin Augustine.
In “Footloose”, there is a tragic vehicle crash that takes the lives of four people. The campaign is designed to promote safe driving and the production, as well as, teach students and the community the importance of playing their part, not just onstage, but in the world. The “Footloose” show opens Thursday, April 19 at Wetumpka High School.
“Austin was a beloved member of the Wetumpka High Theatre Guild. This tragedy struck just before he was to have his first role onstage with us. What is more enduring than the tragedy of Austin’s death is the brilliance of his life. To be able to bring him with us onstage means so much to me, and to be able to bring a message to help prevent others from enduring a similar tragedy makes this even more important. As the actual father of two teens and a surrogate to dozens more, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t fear something like this happening again,” said Jeff Glass, Wetumpka High School Theatre Director and Fine Arts Department Chair, Alabama Educational Theatre Association, Secretary.
Distracted driving is the leading cause of crashes, a driver that is texting is 23% more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver. Other distractions include, but are not limited to, eating or drinking, grooming, talking to passengers, and adjusting the radio.
Debra Augustine, the mother of Austin Augustine, said, “We are doing this campaign to remind everyone, and especially our young drivers, the importance of safe driving. It is important to our family on a very personal level. We lost our 16 year old son, two of his friends and a deputy sheriff in a horrific accident in November 2014. The only survivor of the wreck was wearing a seat belt. We want to remind everyone that speed kills and seat belts save lives as well as the importance of the graduated driver’s license law. If we had been made more aware of this law we may have had a different outcome that night.”
The state of Alabama has a graduated driver’s license that has been in effect since July 2010 according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. According to the Alabama Graduated Driver License law, 16-year-olds, as well as 17-year-olds that are licensed for less than six months may not:
- Have more than one non-family passenger,
- Operate a vehicle between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. (with some exceptions), or
- Drive while operating a non-essential handheld communication device.
Violations of the graduated law will result in an extension of the graduated license period and possible suspension of the license.
As part of the campaign crashed vehicles along with a safe driving message will be placed at five different locations in the community.
With safety in mind, motorists are advised not to stop and investigate or take photos.
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Alabama Department of Transportation
The Family of Austin Augustine