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Did you know? Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one cause of teen deaths between the ages of 14 and 18. NHTSA, whose priority remains “saving lives”, has launched a new program to address teen driving safety.
The “5 to Drive” campaign aims to encourage parents of teen drivers are soon-to-be-new drivers to talk to their children about five key safe driving messages:
- No cell phone use or texting while driving,
- No extra passengers,
- No speeding,
- No alcohol, and
- No driving or riding without a seat belt.
Why these five items in particular?
NHTSA data shows that the causes of crashes or deaths were directly linked to these activities. For example:
- In 2011, over half of the teen occupants of passenger vehicles who died in crashes were unrestrained;
- Speeding was a factor in 35 percent of fatal crashes involving a teen driver;
- Twelve percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time; and
- In 2011, 505 people nationwide died in crashes in which drivers between 14 and 18 years old had alcohol in their systems, despite the fact that all states have Zero Tolerance Laws for drinking and driving under age 21.
As part of kicking off National Teen Driver Safety Week, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland held a news conference in D.C. on October 22 to announce the agency’s new program. In a statement he said:
Inexperience and immaturity, combined with speed, drinking and driving, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving, and other teen passengers contribute to the high fatality rate of teens involved in fatal crashes. I encourage all parents of teenagers to have an open discussion with their teen about the dangers common among young drivers and to make sure they use our ‘5 To Drive’ program to develop the necessary skills to drive safely every trip, every time.
We applaud NHTSA for beating the drum for teen driver safety – as many of these deaths could have been prevented.
If you haven’t read Tim Hollister’s moving story about the loss of his teenager son, Reid, then you should take a few minutes to do so now. Then check out this web resource for parents of teen drivers for additional information and tips to guide your new licensee.
What other rules of the driving game have you set forth for your teen? Let us know in the comments below.