Safe driving initiative for teens

Accidents are among the top five causes of death among teenagers in the United States. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle fatalities are the leading cause of death to teenagers. That represents more than one-third of all deaths for this age group.

While deaths among this cohort — 12 to 19 years old — make up a small fraction of all the deaths in the country, on average (less than 1%), it is an important public issue because the majority of deaths among teenagers are caused by outside factors: accidents, homicide and suicide.

The tragedy that families encounter when an accident claims a young family member is profound and long-lasting. What’s largely true about these causes of death is that they are by definition preventable.

With motor vehicle deaths at the forefront of teenage fatalities, an initiative by the Dutchess County Division of Youth Services in collaboration with the Putnam County Youth Bureau that aims to foster safe driving habits is worthy of our praise.

Colleen Flynn, a summer intern at The Millerton News who is a rising senior at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, writes in this week’s issue about the “Parents as Driving Partners” initiative. (See front page story.) The goal of the program is to create safe drivers by encouraging strong bonds between teens and their parents. It also includes a mutual pledge to drive safely together.

After a teenager passes a learner’s permit test, they will receive a “Parents as Driving Partners” booklet with driving tips and resources on how to become a safe driver. The booklet also contains a Parent/Teen Driving Agreement, which is a mutual pledge to drive safely together.

The pact states how teens should obey safety rules, never drive under the influence, never drive while using a cellphone, and to only drive with parental permission.  Sean McMann, assistant communications director for Dutchess County, describes parents as ideal mentors for teenagers, who can serve as role models. The idea is that parents can ingrain responsible driving habits in their teenagers by participating in the program.

Dutchess and Putnam County officials are developing plans to spread this initiative to other counties in New York state. Kudos to Dutchess and Putnam County officials for starting this potentially life-saving program.


Movies are back, The Moviehouse has been here


Last Friday the American public decided, after a lackluster summer of theater attendance, that movies were officially “back on.” The double release of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” produced the highest-grossing box office weekend since 2019. We were back in our seats at the movie theater — including at The Moviehouse in Millerton. But just because it was a successful weekend for new release screenings doesn’t mean co-owners David Maltby and Chelsea Altman had just been waiting around.

In 2023 alone, the proprietors of The Moviehouse and their nonprofit board have scheduled must-see one-night screenings and live panels to bring immediacy and intimacy to the local arthouse theater experience. Recently this has included actress Kyra Sedgwick screening her directorial debut, “Space Oddity,” for an evening with a live Q&A hosted by Griffin Dunne, as well as board member and actress Gretchen Mol hosting a screening and Q&A of her Sundance film, “Palm Tress and Powerlines,” along with the film’s star, newcomer Lily McInerny, who was nominated for Best Breakthrough Performance at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards for her role. Bard College professor Joseph Luzzi introduced a one-night screening of Federico Fellini’s “La Strada,” and director James Hussey discussed his documentary on Roy Lichtenstein’s artistic appropriation with Moviehouse board member and “Big Short” Oscar-winning screenwriter Charles Randolph.

The continued creativity in programming makes The Moviehouse more than an impersonal multiplex chain. It’s a small but crucial cultural center for the region and a forum to discuss film, both old and new, black and white or glittering pink.

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