FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2007
Contact: Jonathan Adkins
State Highway Safety Agencies React to New Teen Driving Research
Statement for Attribution to Christopher J. Murphy, Chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies released a broad new research report, Driving: Through the Eyes of Teens. This comprehensive look at students’ perceptions and experiences surrounding teen driving gives us important insight into the challenges presented by teen drivers. The report will assist states as we strengthen graduated licensing laws (GDL) and develop programs and initiatives to reduce teen deaths and injuries. Among the findings of particular interest to GHSA:
- The Role of Parents—According to the report, 56 percent of teens say their parents have been involved in teaching them to drive. Research shows that parents who are actively involved in teaching their children to drive have safer teen drivers. Parents must assume primary responsibility for reducing crash risk for their children.
- Safety Belt Use—Only 65 percent of teens said they consistently wore their safety belts as both a driver and a passenger. To dramatically increase this number, every state needs to pass and enforce a primary safety belt law which permits law enforcement officers to pull a vehicle over if occupants are not wearing safety belts. Currently, only 25 states and D.C. have enacted these laws. Until every state has acted, parents must ensure their teens buckle up consistently.
- Cell Phones and Distracted Driving—Eighty-nine percent of teens said they have seen a teen driver on a cell phone while driving, and 48 percent admitted to the behavior themselves. Driving while distracted, while unsafe for all drivers, is particularly dangerous for novice drivers. To help address this, every state should enact a novice driver cell phone ban as part of the state’s GDL. Currently, 13 states and D.C. have these bans for novice drivers.
While cell phones are perceived to be the most common distraction, the report indicates that nearly all teens (93 percent) have seen another teen driving with peers in the vehicle. Federal and insurance industry research has demonstrated that teen drivers carrying another teen passenger have twice the risk of a fatal crash compared to the risk of driving alone. While 37 states have provisions for restricting the passengers of teens, the remaining 13 states need to quickly enact this life-saving provision.
- Speeding is clearly an issue deserving of attention from federal, state and local safety officials, as half of all teens reported driving 10 miles per hour or more over the posted limit at least some of the time. Additionally, nearly all teens (92 percent) indicate they have seen other teens similarly speeding. Speed contributed to approximately a third of all fatal crashes and 38 percent of fatal crashes involving male drivers ages 15 to 20 in 2005. To address this issue, the federal and state governments should implement the recommendations of the 2005 National Forum on Speeding. These include: more widespread use of automated enforcement, increased enforcement in residential areas, school zones and work zones and implementation of a communications campaign to personalize speeding-related crashes.
GHSA is grateful for this study and looks forward to working with the researchers on future efforts to reduce teen deaths and injuries.
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Note: GHSA and the Ford Motor Company Fund have developed Driving Skills for Life (DSFL). This comprehensive, free program incorporates the four driving skills safety experts believe have the most promise of preventing crashes: Hazard Recognition, Vehicle Handling, Speed Management, and Space Management. DSFL provides learning materials for use by students, parents, educators, and instructors and is appropriate for use at home, in schools and in community settings. Visit www.drivingskillsforlife.com for more information.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy and enhance program management. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org.