‘Klickit 4 Kelvin’ still driving home message about teen seatbelt safety
Accidents among teen drivers more prevalent in summer months
With the summer months here and in full force, many teens are sleeping in, staying out late, and enjoying their newfound freedom from the rigors of school.
Even though this time of year can be fun and carefree, it’s also important to remember that traffic deaths among teens are widely reported to increase during summer months, especially around the end of the school year. The AAA Foundation for Traffic and Safety recently released a study reporting that an average of 10 people a day die in auto accidents involving a teen driver between Memorial Day and Labor Day – a period known as the “100 deadliest days” of the year.
Local nonprofit “Klickit 4 Kelvin,” founded by Huger resident Karen Richardson, is dedicated to curbing the number of teen traffic deaths, by promoting one simple philosophy: wear your seatbelts.
Klickit 4 Kelvin was born from a tragedy. In 2012, Karen’s sons, Kelvin and Matthew Richardson, were driving to church during a storm. The brothers lost control of the car when it hydroplaned, and died when the vehicle collided with a tree. Two years later, Karen created Klickit 4 Kelvin to promote seatbelt awareness and safe driving habits among teenagers. She and a group of volunteers have been working to do their part to keep kids safe ever since.
“This year, I went to Berkeley High, and I always go to Hanahan, because that’s where my boys went to high school,” said Karen about the group’s outreach efforts in 2018.
Klickit 4 Kelvin has recently focused their sights on other ways to get their message out. Karen has recruited junior board members to advocate safe driving practices in schools in West Ashley. According to Karen, it was a little slow going at first, but they hope to make use of their junior board next school year. The young group of advocates has aided Karen in creating new ideas to push Klickit 4 Kelvin’s message.
“I wanted something fresh, some new ideas from the young people,” she added. “They said not to have so many big events, let’s do something else with the money. So what we’re trying to do is get sponsors and kind of partner up with 911.”
One of the aspirations behind this possible partnership is to put driver’s education classes in more schools across the Lowcountry.
To Steven Piscotti, who recently graduated from Hanahan High School, the group’s message is having an impact.
“A seatbelt is really important, and the Klickit 4 Kelvin cause really enforces that and really just puts more focus and emphasis on wearing your seatbelt,” said Steven, who became involved with the organization as a volunteer earlier this year.
After becoming active in 2015, the nonprofit group began hosting events and going to high schools to speak about the importance of caution behind the wheel. For the next two years, they kept pushing along, but have lately begun to let the momentum fade a bit.
“We kind of tried to slow it down a little bit because my husband got sick last year,” noted Karen. “We had a big event planned, and had to cut back. But, I still keep my things going on with the schools during prom season.”
Some of the most commonly cited reasons traffic deaths among teens are widely reported to increase during the end of school are prom season, graduation, and the carefree attitude that comes along with it.
“They [teens] have access to cars and they’re driving, they’re on the road and it’s late,” said Karen.
The biggest achievement Klickit 4 Kelvin has experienced in its time, according to Karen, is seeing “more young people being aware, and seeing that they’re safe,” and knowing “they’re being responsible when they have more people in the car with them.”
Although the non-profit remains near and dear to those involved, Karen’s primary mission now is putting her family first.
“I was going to shut it down and just focus on my 17-year-old, focus on where he’s going and what he’s going to be doing,” said Karen. “But, I had someone to ask me to stay. I said I may do it another year or two.”
Traffic safety among teens is not a crusade Karen plans to forget or refuse to fight anymore. But there is one task that she feels she needs to concentrate on more.
“It’s not that I want to forget my children, but I want to focus on my child that’s alive,” she said.
For more information on Klickit 4 Kelvin, visit www.klickit4kelvin.org or the organization’s Facebook page.