Brian Salit, 18, of Seekonk, Mass., a senior at Seekonk High School, has organized three large conferences with his brothers over the past three years that have provided more than 1,000 high school student leaders with the knowledge and tools to implement distracted-driving prevention programs in their own schools and communities. In early 2012, a car accident caused by a texting driver took the life of a track athlete who was scheduled to compete against Brians team that night. The accident had a profound impact on me, said Brian. I felt that I had to do something to prevent this from happening to others.
Several months later, Brian and his two brothers attended an event on teenage distracted driving hosted by the National Organizations for Youth Safety in Washington, D.C., and came back determined to host their own local summits on distracted driving. They recruited two teachers and several friends to help, raised $5,000 from local and corporate sponsors, and invited government officials, victim advocates and experts in a variety of fields to speak. The event was a huge success, said Brian. Student leaders from more than 20 high schools attended that first summit at the Massachusetts State House. A second summit last year attracted over 450 attendees, and a third summit was held in August 2014 that attracted more than 300 student leaders. The Governors Highway Safety Association highlighted the Salits summits and estimated that they have impacted more than 70,000 students so far across New England.