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Teens Rally Behind 'Drive Slow' Movement

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Most teenagers are eager to get their drivers license so they can hit the road. But some North San Diego County teens are urging their classmates and adults to drive slow or not drive at all. It's par

Teens Rally Behind 'Drive Slow' Movement

(Photo: San Marcos high school student Dina Davis flashes a “five” as part of the campaign’s tactic. Ana Tintocalis/KPBS ) Most teenagers are eager to get their drivers license so they can hit the road. But some North San Diego County teens are urging their classmates and adults to drive slow or not drive at all. It's part of their grassroots campaign to encourage motorists to ease up on the gas pedal. KPBS Education Reporter Ana Tintocalis rode shot-gun recently with two of the teens.  

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Seventeen-year-old Dina Davis and 15-year-old Josh Vail are in a parking lot at San Marcos High School. Both of them go to school here.

Dina has purple hair, takes care of livestock, and is a vegetarian. Josh has long blond hair, rides his bike everywhere, and is an aspiring horticulturist. 

The two teens say they're fed up with the country's dependence on oil and the high cost of gas. That's why they're urging everyone to drive slow or don't drive at all.  

<b> Vail: </b> You know, if you do a little research, you'll see that it does a lot of good to the environment, yourself, and everyone around you. If they say we're wrong, and we're dumb and we're idealistic about the whole thing, well time will prove them wrong.  

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&nbsp;Dina Davis (L) and Josh Vail have joined the initiative to urge drivers to slow down and conserve gas. Ana Tintocalis/KPBS

Josh and Dina were the first at their school to sign up for the Drive Slow, Save Gas initiative. Students at Carlsbad High School also joined the roster. Recent studies show even gas efficient cars get 13 miles per gallon better gas mileage at 55 miles per hour compared to 75. And saving gas and money is something Dina's family struggles with on a daily basis. 

Davis: My dad is a truck driver and my mom is going back to school to be a medical assistant. And we've been low on money. So we rely on the money I get from my animals to pay for bills. So it has been difficult. 

That’s why Dina welcomes this chance to spread the word about conserving gas. She and a group of other socially-conscience students at Carlsbad High School have pledged to drive five miles below the legal speed limit on streets and highways -- and they're raising some eyebrows in the process. That's because as they're driving, the students hold out their left hand -- with all five fingers spread -- outside their car window.

That signal means drivers should slow down by at least five miles per hour or drive 55 miles per hour. 

Dina takes us for a spin around downtown San Marcos with Josh in the backseat. The car rolls out of the parking lot and the teens flash the sign. It doesn't take long to get scowling looks and beeping car horns. 

<b> Reporter: </b> Do you ever wonder if a car is going to hit your hand?  <br><br> <b> Vail: </b> Well I'd hope a car would keep a good safe distance away from mine, to keep my hand in tact, you know. You don't want to pop up like four inches away from their car.     <br><br> <b> Reporter: </b> Do you think people understand what you're doing though?      <br><br> <b> Davis: </b> Some people might, but if they don't, we get very angry drivers at us.  <br><br> <b> Reporter: </b> So how fast are you driving?  <br><br> <b> Davis: </b> Right now I'm going about 22 in 45 mile zone.  <br><br> <b> Reporter: </b> OK, so that lady just zoomed past us.  <br><br> <b> Davis: </b> Yeah. 
Along the short trip some drivers slow down and trail us for a few blocks, but the majority quickly loses patience and pass by us.

Back at the parking lot, the teenagers say the campaign goes along with all the other kind of community work they do to protect the environment.

Josh hopes people will rethink their old habits.     

<b> Vail: </b> I'd like to see people care a little more. Hope to see people would make changes to their daily lives. Simple things, not big. Use a little less water, use a little less gas. It adds up in the end.  

Greenpeace has endorsed the students Drive Slow, Save Gas campaign, and a couple of North County community leaders have also joined the cause. The students hope the campaign will spread to other parts of the county.     

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.