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GHSA News Release;

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2009

Contact: Jonathan Adkins
(202)789-0942, ext.13
(202)669-9746, cell

National and State Efforts Draw Attention to Teen Driver Safety

National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 18-24

WASHINGTON, D.C.—To commemorate National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), national organizations and state highway safety agencies have a variety of events and activities planned to draw attention to the senseless tragedies associated with teen driving crashes and fatalities. NTDSW has been designated by Congress as a time for communities, schools and families to raise awareness and provide solutions to teen driver crashes, the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. In 2008, 4,054 teenagers ages13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes.

To raise awareness about the issue as well as highlight law enforcement and educational activities, state highway safety agencies will be drawing attention to the risks faced by young drivers. Michigan, Minnesota and California, for example, will focus on risks associated with texting and cell phone use. Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri are among the states that will focus on teen seat belt use both with educational and law enforcement components.

The most important action to reduce teen driving deaths is strengthening state graduated licensing laws. Indiana and Maryland will remind teens and parents about new, stricter laws now in effect in those states. States have made tremendous progress in strengthening teen driving laws. 49 states now have some form of three-tiered graduated licensing system which is recommended by GHSA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and other experts. Based on the IIHS rating system, no state in 1996 had a law rated as "good." Today, 34 states and D.C. are rated as "good." Nine are "fair," 7 are "marginal," and no states are "poor."

On the national level, GHSA and Ford Motor Company Fund continue working with state highway safety agencies on the Ford Driving Skills for Life Program. Teen training and related events have recently been held or will be held in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. More information about this comprehensive teen driving program is available at www.drivingskillsforlife.com.

Finally, next week, GHSA is joining with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to announce the 2009 Operation Safe Driver campaign which focuses on reducing unsafe driving behavior by trucks, buses and passenger vehicles. This year, the program will focus on teaching teens about the risks of dangerous driving behavior and the how to safely share the road with commercial vehicles. A new “Teens and Trucks” training course has been developed by federal and state agencies and will be offered to schools. More information about this campaign will be available next week at www.operationsafedriver.com.

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A sampling of state activities for NTDSW as well as state laws and related resources are posted at www.ghsa.org/html/projects/ntdsw/2009.html.

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.