The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled a new campaign this week directed at reducing the death rate of teen drivers. The campaign, called “5 to Drive,” coincides with Teen Driver Safety Week. The number one cause of teen death in America is motor vehicle accidents with almost half of the teens killed being the drivers themselves. In 2011, 2,105 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes. Of that number, nine hundred forty two teen drivers were killed in the accident. The campaign is designed to encourage parents to get involved, so that their teen driver is not one of them.
The campaign focuses on five critical driving practices which the NHTSA has identified as being central to reducing these tragic events. As U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explains, “The ‘5 to Drive’ campaign gives parents and teens a simple, straightforward checklist that can help them talk about good driving skills and most importantly, prevent a tragedy before it happens.”
The “5 to Drive” campaign topics are:
- No cell phone use or texting while driving,
- No extra passengers,
- No speeding,
- No alcohol, and
- No driving or riding without a seat belt.
Tragically, despite ongoing education efforts, over half the teens killed in automobile accidents in 2011 were not wearing a seat belt. Distracted driving, much of it due to the use of personal electronic devices, contributed to twelve percent of fatal accidents incurred by teen drivers. Additionally, despite zero tolerance policies in every state against drinking and driving under age 21, 505 people were killed in 2011 in crashes with teen drivers with alcohol in their systems. Finally, speeding continues to be a contributing factor of fatal crashes, representing 35 percent of all teen driver fatal events. The “5 to Drive” campaign in intended to highlight these continual problems.
Not included in the list is the recognized problem of peer pressure as a contributing cause of teen crash deaths. One NHTSA study found that teens are 2.5 times as likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger and 3 times more likely with multiple teenage passengers.
The NHTSA hopes the “5 to Drive” will serve as a guideline for parents to talk with their teenage drivers about their role in avoiding these senseless deaths. If you have a teenage driver in your house, please review this information with them today.