With National Teen Driver Safety Week running from October 19-25, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “5 to Drive” campaign, as CDOT writes in the Journal-Advocate.
The campaign was launched in 2013 to help give parents ideas about what to say to teens to help them be safer drivers, the Journal-Advocate writes, noting that in 2012, 859 teen drivers were killed in road accidents. The “5 to Drive” rules that parents are encouraged to share with their teens are:
• No Drinking and Driving.
• Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back.
• Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.
• Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.
• No More Than One Passenger at a Time.
Teen drivers need to follow these rules — and any other restrictions outlined in Colorado’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) law. Parents have a responsibility to tell their teen drivers about the rules and enforce them. But sadly, only about 25 percent of parents have serious talks with their kids about safe driving. The ‘5 to Drive’ campaign was designed to help parents start that conversation.
The Journal-Advocate article says that in the U.S. in 2012, 28% of drivers ages 15 to 20 who were killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration of .01 grams per deciliter or higher, even though it is illegal for people under age 21 to buy or drink alcohol in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. And in 2012, more than half of those drivers between 15 and 20 who were killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts, CDOT notes. Distracted driving is also a big problem, as nearly one fifth of all drivers between 15 and 19 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted by their cellphones, CDOT reports.
In addition, 48% of crashes that killed drivers in that same age group involved teens who were speeding, CDOT writes, and the risk of a fatal car accident increases with each additional passenger. “The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior while traveling with multiple passengers increases to three times,” CDOT writes.
To these five points, Geico adds in a press release appearing on Business Wire that it is very important for all drivers, and especially new ones, to get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. “Sleep deprivation leads to clouded thinking while driving and slows reflexes — a dangerous combination for a new driver with little time behind the wheel,” Geico writes.
The federal government website Safercar.gov asks parents if they are prepared to help teens learn to drive, and offers to help parents guide their teens to be safe drivers. SaferCar features information on each state’s licensing requirements for teens. The site provides in-depth information about some common safety problems beginning drivers need to avoid, plus ideas and resources for parents.
The key highway safety laws in Colorado are listed according to category by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. Among the categories that apply to teen drivers are: cell phones and texting, drug-impaired driving, drunk driving, graduated driver licensing, helmets for motorcyclists, seat belts.
In a related news item, a new study from the Colorado Public Interest Group Foundation (CoPIRG) and Frontier Group shows that the millennial generation’s lack of interest in driving is “here to stay,” as Elizabeth Hernandez writes for The Denver Post. The researchers used census data from 2006 to 2013 to find that among 16- to 24-year-olds, there was a 1.5% decrease in driving to work, and a corresponding increase in walking, biking, or using public transportation to commute, if they were not working from home.
The study also found that the percentage of high school students with drivers licenses decreased from 85% in 1996 to 73% in 2010, and federal data suggest the decline is continuing, according to CoPIRG and Frontier Group, Hernandez writes. She quotes Nick Tosches, a student at Metropolitan State University of Denver, as saying he likes public transportation because it is economical, helps reduce drunken driving, is safer than driving in inclement weather, and reduces traffic.