Drunk driving statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, produce some staggering facts about drunk driving. Out of 12,998 drinking driving fatalities in the United States in 2007, 1,393 were caused due to teen drinking and driving. About 28% of teenagers killed in motor vehicle crashes were drinking either before or while they were driving. Most of the drivers forget to use their seat belts after consuming alcohol. Around 64% of teenagers who were involved in fatal drunk driving crashes were reportedly not wearing their seat belts. The study rates motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of deaths among teenagers. It also reported that the fatalities caused by teens drinking and driving constituted 40% of all alcohol-related fatalities in the United States.
During National Teen Driver Safety Week, School Resource Officer Cpl. Michael Newman of the Lamar County Sheriffs' Office conducted DUI driver education simulations with students at Lamar County Comprehensive High School. In an attempt to change attitudes about drinking and driving, and therefore reduce drunk driving behavior, several students were allowed to wear "drunk goggles" that simulate the effects of drugs and alcohol on perception and coordination while attempting perform a field sobriety test and/or navigate a simple driving course. The demonstration allowed students to witness the effects of driving while impaired.
National Teen Driver Safety Week October 20-26, 2013
NTDSW was established by Congress in 2007 to focus attention on the nation’s epidemic of teen car crashes and to find solutions to lower teen drivers’ fatal crash risk.The initiative was supported by the traffic safety expert at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm Insurance Companies.
Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teenagers across America.A major cause of fatal teen crashes is a common – perhaps even thoughtful – everyday occurrence: a teen driver giving a friend a ride.
Many research studies find similar results: when teen drivers have teen passengers both are more likely to die in a car crash.The presence of one passenger doubles the fatal crash risk for a teen driver (ages 16-19) and the risk increases with each additional passenger.
That’s why The Lamar County Sheriff’s Office along with Phillip Bell, State Farm Insurance Agency, is launching “Ride Like A Friend”, a campaign to reduce car crash deaths among teens by encouraging safe passenger behaviors.Sgt. Stead Walker and Cpl. Jeremy Roberts of the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office will speak with Lamar County high school students during NTDSW and will highlight what teen passengers can do to help when friends are driving.Sgt. Walker will also be doing a live broadcast during NTDSW on Barnesville’s own WBAF radio station 1090AM.
Although there are teens who purposely engage in risky behavior, such as speeding or drinking and driving, most teens do not.As a generation, today’s teens are very concerned about safety, especially when it comes to protecting their friends.Most teens do not know that their behavior as passengers can significantly impact their friends’ ability to drive safely.
In a recent study by the ongoing research partnership of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies, only 1 in 10 teens understood the risks associated with teens driving teens.
A look at crash data, however, clearly outlines the problem:
Research on crashes involving 16-year-old drivers’ shows that having multiple teen passengers in the vehicle is twice as likely to cause a fatal crash as alcohol-impaired driving.
A 1998 study found that carrying one teenage passenger almost doubled the fatal crash risk of teen drivers when compared to driving alone. The crash risk was five to six times higher when three or more teenagers were in the car.
In 2003, nearly 6 of 10 teen passenger deaths (59 percent) occurred in crashes with a teen driver.
One proven way of reducing teen traffic deaths is graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws. GDL laws protect inexperienced teen drivers by granting driving privileges in phases, and may include restrictions on nighttime driving and the number of passengers allowed in the car.
Parents and teen safety advocates can support GDL laws, which vary from state to state, by following current requirements and pushing for additional restrictions. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, optimal GDL laws require: a longer learning period, beginning at age 16; increased and varied supervised driving time of at least 50 hours; and restrictions on passengers and nighttime driving until age 18.
In the meantime, teens and their parents can also take simple steps to reduce crash risks associated with teen drivers giving friends a ride.
Ride Like A Friend. Chatting on your cell phone, yelling out the window, fighting over the radio or otherwise acting wild can distract a friend who is driving. Keep your friend focused by helping to navigate and watch the road when asked.
Wear Your Seat belt. Two-thirds of teens who die in car crashes are not buckled up. In a crash, your unrestrained body also can hurt others in the car.
Don’t let your child ride with a driver who has less than one year of experience. Even the most mature teen needs time to gain driving experience.
Monitor your child’s travel. Teens driving without a fixed destination are at a higher risk of getting into a crash. Find out where your teen is going, how he or she will get there, who is driving and when your teen will be home.
Traffic safety has come a long way since cars first were required to have seat belts 40 years ago. A lot has been done to make our roads safer, but our work is not yet done. Research clearly shows that when teen drivers give rides to their friends, both face higher fatal crash risks. Take part in National Teen Driver Safety Week by taking steps to stop the needless loss of teen lives.