In 2013, Oct. 20-26 is dedicated as National Teen Driver Safety Week. On Oct. 21, North Atlanta high school students began signing “safe driving” pledges. Other teens and new drivers will get up close and personal with safe driving practices by participating in hands-on safety exercises, compliments of Drive Smart Georgia and the Johns Creek Driving School. It all kicked off on Monday in Atlanta and across the country. “We really want to show students what can happen when they don’t concentrate on driving,” owner Steve Jones said during an exclusive interview with Examiner.com on Oct. 21. “Unsafe practices like drinking and driving, texting, and having too many friends in the car can have dire consequences.”
Car crashes remain the #1 cause of death for adolescents. To put the spotlight on the serious issue of teen driving, Congress established National Teen Driver Safety Week in 2007. According to a study by the Foundation for Traffic Safety, teen drivers are about 50 percent more likely to crash in the first month of unsupervised driving than they are after a full year of experience driving on their own. The overwhelming majority (75 percent) of serious teen driver crashes are due to "critical errors," with these three common ones accounting for nearly half of teen crashes:
- Lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazards.
- Going too fast for road conditions (driving too fast to respond to others or to successfully navigate a curve, for example).
- Being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle.
Kathy Bernstein from the National Safety Council told "The Chicago Tribune," "Too often teens are perceived as risky drivers, but that's not really fair. Inexperience, not necessarily risk-taking, leads to most teen crashes." She added that practice and parental supervision are the best tools to combat inexperience.
To make teens more aware of the dangers of driving and to put the emphasis on safety, Johns Creek Driving School, Drive Smart Georgia and SADD have joined forces to host high school programs at two North Atlanta high schools. The dates and locations are as follows:
- Wednesday, Oct. 23: Cambridge High School
- Friday, Oct. 25: Johns Creek High School
During the National Teen Driver Safety Week events, students will have the opportunity to drive a simulator in extreme driving conditions, wear “drunk Goggles” to experience firsthand the dangers of drinking and driving, and sign a “safe driving pledge.” SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, will also be on hand to encourage students to drive safely.
“National Teen Driver Safety Week is a great time to re-evaluate how ‘I drive’ and discuss the importance of driving safely with your teen,” Jones said on Monday. He added, “Parental involvement and leading by example are crucial when educating your teen to be a safe driver.”
Facts about Teen Crashes:
- The fatal crash rate for drivers ages 16 to 19, based on miles driven, is four times higher than for drivers ages 25 to 69.4.
- Teen passengers and cell phones are two distractions proven to kill teens.
- Environmental conditions such as poor weather, vehicle malfunction, or aggressive driving, or physical impairments such as drowsy driving are not primary factors in most crashes.
Johns Creek Driving School and Drive Smart Georgia offer the following safety tips for teenage drivers:
- The longest 500 miles for teens & parents. A teenager’s first 500 miles of driving are the most dangerous. During that time, they’re 10 times more likely to crash than an adult.
- No friends in the car for the first 6 months. It’s the law in Georgia! The presence of one passenger doubles the fatal crash risk for a teen driver and the risk increases with each additional passenger, yet recent research shows that few teens recognize the impact passengers have on driver safety.
- 25% of accidents are caused by texting. Put your cell phone down!
- Lead by example. Most teens follow similar driving habits of their parents. So, drive the speed limit, don’t use your cell phone (reading emails included and even at stop lights) and keep it safe on the road.
- Don’t let your teen drive whenever they want. Teens with easy access to a vehicle are more likely to crash than those who have to “ask for permission” and have a more structured approach.
Parents are pivotal in the learning-to-drive process for teens, but they may not always have the tools and knowledge they need to be effective. Be sure to check out these valuable resources from Teen Driver Source.
“Our goal is to help keep our community roads safe, not just during Teen Driver Safety Week, but every day of the year,” Jones explained. “We’re all a part of this community and we want it to be safe.”
To learn more about National Teen Driver Safety Week, be sure to watch the video above and to the left by WDTN TV.
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