Edgerton student wins car in inaugural Rock County Operation Click contest
JANESVILLE — "Hey Joe! She won the car!," Janel Snell exclaimed to her husband on her cellphone moments after her daughter Julia turned the key that started a red 2010 Chevy Cobalt.
The car was donated by Burtness Chevrolet of Orfordville as the main prize for students who went above and beyond practicing safe driving for months as part of the Operation Click campaign sponsored by AAA.
"I'm so proud of her," Janel said. "She's done everything she should do, and I couldn't ask for more. This is awesome."
Julia, a senior at Edgerton High School, will attend DePaul University in Chicago this fall. She's been driving a Saturn with 250,000 miles on it, Janel said.
"When I went up there, I was shaking like, 'Please, please, please'," Julia said. "I'm so surprised. I'm totally in shock."
Julia was sixth in a line of eight students selected.
"I started crying," Julia said. "I couldn't believe it. I have a softball game tonight, so I guess that's the first place I'll be going."
Operation Click was formed in Crystal Lake, Illinois, in 1998 to teach teen drivers to practice safe driving habits. This is its first year in Rock County.
"We think its a great program," said Nicholas Pyan, vice president of the program. "The main focus is distracted driving. You don't know how distracted you are. A group of friends in the car, music, anything can take your focus away from driving."
According to Wisconsin Department of Transportation statistics, drivers 16 to 19 are more likely to be in a vehicle crash than any other group.
During 2012, about 2 percent of all 16- to 19-year-old drivers had crashes, more than one in 11 teen drivers, according to the statistics.
They also found traffic crashes statewide in 2012 killed 57 drivers aged 16 to 19 compared to 43 in 2011.
"I think this teaches teens to practice good habits," Julia said. "It's good for high schools to be involved."
Based on school participation, eight students were randomly chosen for a chance at the car Thursday; three from Evansville, two from Janesville Parker, one from Edgerton, one from Orfordville Parkview and one from Janesville Craig.
"It's always fun to watch their reactions when they turn the key and their car starts," Pyan said.
The finalists who weren't able to start the car received $50 Wal-Mart gift cards.
Evansville received an extra key because student Marissa Haegele was chosen by Operation Click as the campaign's Student of the Year in Rock County.
Parker High School was named School of the Year by the group out of 47 high schools who participate in the program.
"We recognize the school of the year for their outstanding work," Pyan said. "For being in their first year, they did a very good job."
Students participating in the pledge were required to follow rules which included:
-- No texting and driving.
-- No drinking alcohol and driving.
-- No riding in a vehicle with a driver who had consumed alcohol.
-- Wearing a seat belt at all times when operating or riding in a vehicle.
-- Strongly encouraging passengers to wear seat belts at all times when driving.
-- No alcohol-related or traffic convictions during the school year.
-- No seat belt citations or convictions.
-- No discipline issues at school.
Walworth County students participating in Operation Click from Badger, Elkhorn, Whitewater, Big Foot, East Troy, Delavan-Darien and Williams Bay high schools will have their opportunity to win a car Friday.