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National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 20-26, 2013

Posted: October 16, 2013 11:12 a.m.
Updated: October 16, 2013 11:12 a.m.
 

Northridge, Calif. – (October 21, 2013) – The California Highway Patrol (CHP), Impact Teen Drivers, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), and city officials sought to turn a procession into a parade today, celebrating lifesaving driving habits rather than mournfully accepting collisions as an inevitable killer of teens. They joined forces to raise awareness of a highly preventable public health epidemic: reckless and distracted driving.

Motor vehicle collisions remain the number one killer of teens in America. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in California alone, traffic collisions killed 535 young adults (aged 16-24) in 2010, a headcount comparable to the capacity of a 747 Jumbo Jet. Imagine if every state lost a jet full of teenagers every year—people would swear off air travel permanently.

“Driving is one of the single most dangerous skills a teenager will learn while growing up,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Together with Impact Teen Drivers and OTS, the CHP is working to better prepare teens for the challenges they will face on the road and the responsibility that comes with a driver license.”

Reckless and distracted driving is the foremost cause of these collisions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that distracted driving killed more than seven young adults (16-19) per day in 2010. Lattes, lip-gloss, cell phones…these are all distractions that contribute to this entirely preventable plague.

“We lose sight of the fact that everyday behaviors we see on the roadways are a threat to all motorists,” said Impact Teen Drivers Executive Director Dr. Kelly Browning.

The statistics speak for themselves, but they do not do all the talking; sharing these staggering statistics with youth is only one part of the equation. During National Teen Driver Safety Week, California officials are emphasizing the need for a holistic approach that combines education, experiential learning, and enforcement to change the driving culture.

Another important layer of prevention is hands-on experience that forces drivers to fathom their own susceptibility to dangerous distractions. As part of the kick-off for National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 20 – 26), parents, educators, elected officials, affected families, and partnering agencies gathered at Northridge Academy High School in Northridge to allow teens to navigate a closed-course track set up by the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy while experiencing the impairment caused by everyday distractions.

“It’s always an eye-opening experience for teens to see the tremendous impact distracted driving has on their ability to handle the wheel and the vehicle,” said Carolyn Duchene, Director of the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy. “The trail of knocked over cones the teens leave behind on the course gives a pretty clear visual of what might happen if they drive distracted out on the roadway. It provides that pivotal connection that personalizes the message.”

Following the event, teens had the opportunity to meet with family members who have lost loved ones in distracted driving collisions.

“If the knocked over cones aren’t visually impactful enough, the sorrow and grief of a mother or father who lost a teenage daughter or son definitely is,” acknowledged Browning. “We don’t do this to scare teens or the driving public. We do it to show the reality of decisions we all make behind the wheel. Our hope is to change behavior and make people recognize the very real consequences of their actions.”

There is no law enforcement officer, parent, or educator in the world that can singlehandedly compel young people to drive safely—it must be a concerted and collaborative effort to appeal to new drivers on all levels. This is why The CHP, Impact Teen Drivers, and OTS are teaming up to apply myriad forms of prevention activities during National Teen Driver Safety Week, bringing us one day closer to eradicating the preventable plague of reckless and distracted driving.

The event was made possible by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety funded by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

ABOUT IMPACT TEEN DRIVERS

Impact Teen Drivers was created through the combined effort of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the California Teachers Association, and California Casualty to raise awareness and education among teens, parents, and communities about the consequences of reckless and distracted driving. For more information about Impact Teen Drivers, or to find out how you can become involved, please e-mail info@impactteendrivers.org or call 916-733-7432.

Note: The Signal delivers press releases from reliable sources to provide up-to-the-minute information to our website readers. Information directly from news sources has not been vetted by The Signal news room. It may appear subsequently in news stories after it has been vetted.

 

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