Thursday, October 14, 2010

National Teen Driver Safety Week

Courtesy of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission

National Teen Driver Safety Week Celebrated in Washington State
October 17 – 23
Set Aside for Teens and Parents to Focus on Safe Teen Driving Behavior

Between October 17 and 23, Washington State will celebrate National Teen Driver Safety Week, focusing not only on the laws governing new drivers in Washington but also on the impacts parents have on teens by setting limits and modeling responsible driving behavior. Research shows that parents are the single greatest influence on their teens’ driving.

For the second consecutive year, State Farm® provided a grant to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to remind parents of teens about the resources available to assist them in teaching teens to drive safely. Public service announcements emphasizing the importance of parent modeling will run on local broadcast networks throughout the week. The grant also funds a website specifically for Washington parents—a clearinghouse of useful information they can use as their teens begin the adventure of driving.

On October 4, Governor Gregoire signed a Proclamation declaring October 17 – 23 Teen Driver Safety Week in Washington State.

State Farm will kick-off the week by presenting Senator Tracey Eide with one of its Graduated Driver License Champions awards honoring lawmakers who make significant contributions to the strength of licensing systems for new drivers. Senator Eide is being lauded by the insurer for efforts on SSB 6345, which prohibits drivers who hold either a learner’s permit or intermediate license from operating any electronic devices. She is one of only six lawmakers nationwide receiving the award.

"We believe the prohibition on wireless communication devices for novice drivers is an important component of a strong Graduated Driver Licensing system," says State Farm Vice President-Operations John Bishop. "Making the law stronger and more enforceable will eventually help us give teens the strength to say ‘Not now, I’m driving.’"

Motor vehicle crashes is one of the leading causes of death among teens age 16-19 in Washington, already causing the deaths of 27 teens this year. A total of 84 teens died in 2008 and 2009 from traffic crashes. During 2009, 16-19 year-olds accounted for 4.2% of all licensed drivers, but 9.1% of all drivers in fatal crashes in Washington.

National Teen Driver Safety Week is observed the third week of October to bring attention to the number one killer of American teens: car crashes. During this week parents, young drivers, lawmakers and educators are encouraged to focus on working together to change risky teen driving behaviors and to help save lives. In order to reduce injuries and deaths from teen crashes across the country, State Farm and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia teamed up in 2007 to support a Congressional resolution designating National Teen Driver Safety Week. Working together with many other safety organizations, State Farm continues to provide leadership and advocacy toward ending this national tragedy.

Here are some of the many ways parents can help their teens become safer drivers:
  • Enforce the Intermediate Driver Licensing (IDL) Law. Currently in Washington, in the first 6 months, teens cannot carry passengers under the age of 20, and in the next 6 months they can transport only three passengers at a time under the age of 20. As well, teens cannot drive between one and five in the morning. Since June 10, 2010, teens with intermediate driver licenses or learner permits may not use a wireless device at all while driving, including hands-free devices, unless they’re reporting an emergency. At age 18, a driver can get a full license without IDL laws.
  • Set a good driving example. Parents have the greatest influence on their teens' driving habits, behaviors, and skills.
  • Even though it may seem that teenagers ignore their parent’s behavior and advice most of the time, parents need to keep in mind that their kids learn by watching them. When driving with a teen, parents should model the behavior that they would like their teens to practice when they are behind the wheel: buckle up, slow down, and focus on the road.
  • Consider establishing a teen/parent contract to clearly define driving expectations for the household. It's been shown to work.
  • Schedule supervised practice driving. 50 hours is a minimum to learn the complicated skill of driving.
  • Watch teens driving correctly. Praise them when they use good judgment, discipline them when needed and be honest with them about the reasons.
  • Gradually introduce new privileges after a teen driver receives their license based on model driving behavior.
  • Limit teen driving trips to those with a purpose and on low-speed roads during daytime hours.
For more information contacts: Angie Ward, WTSC Program Manager, 360.725.9888 or Andrew McVicar, State Farm, 253.912.7470.

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