RICHMOND, Va. -- It's a fear for many families with students that can drive: their child not making it home safely, due to drunk or distracted driving.
Three Richmond students are now speaking out, encouraging their friends to stop driving dangerously through a state-wide campaign called "Arrive Alive."
"I do it to keep the people I love, the people around me, to keep them alive. From getting themselves hurt or even killing themselves, by driving without a seatbelt or texting their phone," said Daveon Canad, a senior at George Wythe High School.
He sat with his classmates Miyah Miller and Ashaney Smith Thursday afternoon, donning their "It's a Vibe, Arrive Alive" bracelets.
All three of them have been personally impacted by drunk or distracted driving.
“My dad was in a car accident, with someone that was distracted, so I took it very personal, because he was putting my dad in danger, and risking himself too," Miller said.
“Myself and some of my friends and family members have been in accidents where someone has been texting and driving, or under the influence driving, so it’s a serious matter that we’ve got to take control of," Smith said.
The driving trends they're fighting against, like distracting driving and speeding, end in tragedy that their teacher Angela Moore has seen more than once.
“We’ve lost several students to distracted driving, texting on their cell phones, and this is a harsh thing to deal with," Moore said.
According to Virginia State Police, between May and August of 2022, almost 6,000 drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were in a car crash.
More than 2,000 were injured and 21 died.
While those statistics are slightly down compared to recent years, Molly Jackson with the Youth Speak Out About Traffic Safety sector of Virginia State Police says the numbers are still alarming.
"Those 21 fatalities for the ages of 15 to 19, that's still too many. That's 21 too many," Jackson said.
Police say excessive speed and not wearing a seatbelt is often a contributing factor, something these students are fighting against.
"You should always wear a seatbelt, no matter where you go. And drive the limit. Always drive the limit," Canad said.
50 high schools, middle schools and youth groups are participating in the campaign. Some groups will compete, requiring them to complete pre and post-seatbelt checks and create creative projects that reach most students at their school.
The campaign results will then be measured by the activities completed, effectiveness, and percentage. First place winner will receive $500, $250 for second place, and $100 for third place.
Winners will be announced on June 16.