October 22, 2013 (Sacramento) – Nationwide, collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and California is not immune to this disturbing trend. Each year, thousands of young drivers and their passengers are killed in collisions. To help bring awareness to this national problem, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) will participate in National Teen Driver Safety Week October 20-26, 2013.
“It only takes a second of inattention behind the wheel to cause a tragedy,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “This week we are dedicated to educating our inexperienced drivers on the dangers of unsafe driving and providing them with the information needed to be safe on our roadways.”
Using cellular telephones, eating or drinking, adjusting a radio, or simply talking with friends are all routine activities that teenagers engage in every day. However, these routine activities can become life-threatening hazards when done behind the wheel of a vehicle. The overwhelming majority of teenage collisions are caused by inexperienced drivers or distractions behind the wheel rather than "thrill-seeking" or deliberate risk taking by the driver.
“Enforcement alone is not the answer – education plays an equally important role in keeping California’s teenage drivers safe,” added Commissioner Farrow. “We encourage parents to get involved by talking to their teen driver about the rules of the road and by being a good role model behind the wheel.”
The CHP offers multiple programs geared toward educating teenage drivers, including: Every 15 Minutes, which focuses on high school juniors and seniors; Start Smart, which is a driver safety education class targeting future licensed drivers; and Impact Teen Drivers, which is a public awareness and education program for teen drivers and their parents about the dangers of distracted driving. Contact your local CHP office and request more information about getting involved in these programs.
“It is crucial that we educate teens with evidence-based safe driving messaging and empower them to make good decisions behind the wheel,” said Kelly Browning, Executive Director of Impact Teen Drivers. “Although teens are our focal group, we also work with parents, teachers, law enforcement, and community members to promote a culture of safe, distraction-free driving. It is primarily through this cultural change that we can eliminate the number one killer of teens in America – reckless and distracted driving.”
National Teen Driver Safety Week is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to preventable teen deaths on the road. It is held annually during the third week of October.