Thursday, October 21, 2010

Celebrating Safe Teen Drivers

This week – October 17-23 – has been designated as National Teen Driver Safety Week. And, we have a good reason to celebrate – today’s edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report states that in 2009 there were approximately 500 fewer teen deaths in motor vehicle crashes. During 2004-2008, the percentage of drivers aged 16-17 years involved in fatal crashes decreased by 36%.

However, we can’t be too joyful. In 2009, about 3,000 teens died in motor vehicle crashes – still the leading cause of death for teens.

The numbers do illustrate the value of teen driver safety programs, graduated driver licensing and more involved parents. Evaluations of the graduated driver license programs show a 20-40 percent reduction in crash risk for the youngest drivers.

The watch word – keep it up! The programs and policies in place are working. Communities need to continue to proactively enforce minimum drinking age laws, blood alcohol levels, and safety belt laws. Ongoing evaluation of value of anti-texting laws needs to occur as well to assess impact of distracting driving on teen motor vehicle crashes.

Diane Canova
VP, Policy & Programs
Partnership for Prevention


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