According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six teenagers between the ages of 16-19 are killed in car accidents every day. Learn how Colorado officials are using National Teen Driver Safety Week to engage drivers in the discussion.

How Colorado Statutes and Programs Seek to Teach Road Caution and Safety

Car crashes are the number one killer of teenagers, ages 15-18 years old. As a result, October 15-21 is designated as National Teen Driver Safety Week. Of all the teenagers killed each year, car accidents take more lives than any disease, injury, or violent altercation. Authorities are encouraging parents or guardians to use National Teen Driver Safety Week as a discussion starter to again emphasize the importance of following the rules of the road to keep themselves and other drivers safe.

Six Teens Die in Car Accidents Everyday

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six teenagers between the ages of 16-19 are killed in car accidents every day. In 2015, 2,333 teens died in car accidents, more than 221,000 were injured, some severely. And when you talk about the costs associated with those accidents, the CDC noted that “In 2013, young people ages 15-19 represented only 7% of the U.S. population. However, they accounted for 11% ($10 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries.”

Why are teens so vulnerable to fatal car crashes? Authorities point to several factors, including:

  • Inexperience – compared to older drivers, teenagers are more likely to underestimate or not even recognize a dangerous situation is about to occur, and when a young driver does react, it’s often the wrong choice.
  • Not Following the Rules of the Road – younger drivers tend to leave less room between them and the car in front of them, leaving little time and room to react to a situation that causes an accident.
  • General Errors – And then there are key behavioral factors such as not wearing a seatbelt, speeding, driving under the influence, and distracted driving, either by another passenger or a cell phone.

This week, authorities hope to focus on these issues and reiterate to all young drivers that when you get behind the wheel, you must put safety first or the results could be deadly.

Colorado GDL Law Pushes for Safe Teen Driving

The State of Colorado recognized years ago that teenagers are at high-risk for death and injury while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Following a tragic car crash in Greeley that killed four teenagers in 1999, the state legislature approved a Graduated Driver’s License law, better known as GDL. GDL helps teenagers gain vital driving experience by making the driver’s license process a tiered procedure.

GDL focuses on the completion of several hours of driver’s education, and then real life, real-time driving experience by logging 50 hours of driving, 10 of those hours at night, with an authorized, licensed parent or guardian in the car. As the young driver gains more experience and completes the requirements, he or she will be eligible for a permanent license.

GDL Revamped to Meet Current Needs

Colorado has taken steps to address the changes that have occurred since GDL was implemented. For instance, in 1999, cell phones were not as widely used but now just about everyone has a mobile device. Since cell phones are such a distraction, the use of one while driving is banned for drivers younger than 18. Colorado also expanded curfew restrictions for those with less than a year of driving experience.

When it comes to deterring teen drivers from breaking any traffic safety laws, authorities remind young drivers and their parents that there are consequences if you are caught breaking the law. Those ticketed will face fines, community service hours, and even more seriously, license suspension points added to their record. Regardless of your age, if you rack up points on your record, you are at risk of having your license suspended, in some cases for up to a year.

Getting a driver’s license is an exciting event for anyone of age, but it’s also a serious undertaking and teens need to understand that. It is critical that you prevent yourself from becoming another teen statistic by obeying the laws.

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