National Teen Driver Safety Week: October 18-24, 2015

Written by Theresa Rose on October 19, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa – Today’s youth are busier and more engaged than ever. Unfortunately, this also means they have more things to distract them, especially while they are driving. Iowa’s young drivers travel many miles over local, state and interstate highways. Many of these miles are before and after school as well as late at night after work or sporting events, in all kinds of weather.

October 18-24, 2015, is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to unnecessary teen deaths on the road. National Teen Driver Safety Week was established by Congress in 2007 and is held annually on the third week of October, its goal is to focus the country’s attention on this serious issue. In Iowa, the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) is asking law enforcement, parents, educators and other influencers to be vigilant in helping keep our youth safe through the awareness, experience and education of teen drivers.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 14-18 year olds in the US (and in Iowa). In fact, in 2013, there were 2,614 teen (15-19 year old) passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 130,000 were injured. Yet, a recent survey shows that only 25% of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the key components of driving. Parents need to take the time to talk with their kids about the many dangers of driving. Those dangers include alcohol, not wearing seat belts, texting, speeding, and extra passengers.

Research indicates which behaviors contribute to teen-related crashes. Inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, drinking and driving, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving, drowsy driving; nighttime driving and other drug use aggravate this problem. Texting and driving continues to be a national epidemic, and teens are some of the worst offenders. In 2012, among drivers 15 to 19 years old who were distracted in fatal crashes, nearly 1 in 5 was distracted by their phones. Another major cause of teen crashes is multiple non-related passengers. This situation causes a high degree of distractions with minimal concentration on the road ahead. Often times this leads to lane departure resulting in serious or fatal crashes.

Parents, teachers, mentors and adult influencers are encouraged to help keep our teen drivers safe by setting a positive example while driving. Drive responsibly by buckling up, driving the speed limit, not drinking and driving and not driving distracted. Remember- you are modeling driver behavior for those around you!
“It is our hope that Teen Driver Safety Week will get the word out to all parents of teens, and help them discuss these important issues,” said Mick Mulhern, Youth Coordinator for the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau. “I get it,” he added. “You probably think your teens aren’t listening, but if this one conversation could save a life, isn’t it a conversation worth having?”