Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers, ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence. To bring awareness to this epidemic and reduce the number of lives lost, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) recognizes National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 15-21.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nationwide in 2015, 1,972 drivers, age 15-18, were involved in fatal collision, resulting in 1,730 teen deaths nationwide. In 2015, in California, 283 teens were behind the wheel at the time of fatal collisions, and 63 percent of those young drivers were at fault.
“This week is dedicated to focusing attention on setting rules for your teen driver before allowing them to get behind the wheel,” said CHP Acting Commissioner Warren Stanley. “Parents and guardians who set firm driving rules can impact their teen’s driving behavior and can be the difference between life and death.”
Inexperience is one of the leading causes of teen collisions. The most important thing you can do for your new teen driver is to stay involved in their driving life. Frequent drives with teens allow parents and guardians to monitor their teen’s progress and reduce their being involved in deadly behaviors, such as: alcohol consumption, driving without seat belts, speeding, carrying extra passengers, and driving distracted.
“Cell phone use continues to be a serious and often deadly distraction for all drivers, but it’s a significant problem among young, inexperienced drivers,” said Rhonda Craft, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “If you’re a parent, guardian, or mentor to a teen driver, lead by example and encourage them to put the phone down and focus on the road. No text message or social media post is more valuable than their lives or the lives of others around them.”
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As part of its commitment to educating the motoring public, the CHP has developed several programs for teen drivers and their families:
– Start Smart is a driver safety education class that targets new and future licensed drivers between the ages of 15-19 and their parents/guardians. The CHP has released a mobile application (app) for Start Smart, designed to assist young people through the process of obtaining their California driver license. The app includes a step-by-step guide covering everything from the Department of Motor Vehicles Driver Handbook and the final steps for obtaining a provisional license, to ultimately achieving an unrestricted California driver license.
-Every 15 Minutes focuses on high school juniors and seniors, challenging them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety, the responsibility of making mature decisions, and the impact their decisions have on family, friends, and many others.
The CHP also works with Impact Teen Drivers, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through evidence-based educational programs that support good decision-making strategies behind the wheel.
“Seventy-five percent of teen fatal car crashes do not involve drugs or alcohol. However, everyday behaviors become lethal when a new inexperienced driver chooses to engage in them behind the wheel—talking to friends, putting on makeup, texting, selfies, or social media posts are just some of the activities that are perfectly safe and legal to do, until you choose to do them behind the wheel,” said Dr. Kelly Browning, Executive Director of Impact Teen Drivers. “It will take a holistic approach that combines education, experiential learning, and enforcement to change the driving culture to one that is distraction-free.”
The CHP is aware of the importance of role models in a youth’s development. Education of new drivers and their families is regarded as a critical function by the CHP to help keep everyone safe on California’s roadways.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.