Schools Promote Teen Safe Driving Week

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5By Terry Rogers

In an effort to promote safe teen driving, the National Safety Council named the week of October 19, 2014 as Teen Safe Driving Week. The organization hopes to provide teen drivers with educational materials on safe driving tips to reduce injuries and fatalities.

“We will do an Alert Now announcement this week along with our Homecoming announcements,” said Dr. David Carter, Principal of Milford High School. “Throughout the school year, we promote non-texting and driving habits as well as not being an aggressive driver. We also have defensive driving classes hosted at the school in the spring.”

The National Safety Council says that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States and that the most dangerous time for new drivers is within the first twelve months after receiving their license. Teenagers are three times as likely to be in a car crash than drivers who are 20 or older. Most accidents involving teenagers are due to inexperience and not because they take more risks behind the wheel.

Teen passengers are one of the biggest distractions for teenagers and just one passenger in the car raises the risk of a fatal crash by 44 percent while two passengers double the risk and three or more quadruple the risk of a fatal crash. Teenagers are also less likely to wear seatbelts than older drivers, increasing the chance of death or injury.

“It is not an issue for all teen drivers, but social media and texting have become constant in many lives and have become a tempting distraction,” Dr. Carter said. “Truthfully, this is dangerous for all ages, whether we are experienced or inexperienced.” The National Safety Council echoes Dr. Carter’s sentiments.

According to a study by Cohen Children’s Medical Center, more than 3,000 teens die each year in crashes caused by texting while driving and more than 50 percent of teens admitted to texting while driving. A Virginia Tech study showed that drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident if they are texting while driving and that the practice is becoming more socially unacceptable among teenagers. Despite the fact that teens felt texting and driving was unacceptable, 95 percent admitted to reading texts and emails when driving alone while 32 percent do so when friends or parents are in the car. More than 90 percent admitted to posting on social media sites while driving while 75 percent admitted to watching videos posted on social media while driving.

Dr. Carter said that his advice for students was to obey the rules of the road and to always be aware of weather conditions.

“Teens need to understand how weather conditions affect the condition of the road,” Dr. Carter said. “They should plan to leave for destinations early to prevent the sense of being rushed and having to speed to get to their destination on time. Teens should always be a defensive driver and never text, tweet or post while behind the wheel of the car.”