Saturday, October 13, 2012

National Teen Driver Safety Week to be held October 14-20

Traffic crashes kill more teenagers in Wisconsin and the rest of the nation than any other cause of death. Last year, 53 teenagers were killed and nearly 6,300 were injured in traffic crashes in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT).

To help prevent deaths and injuries among teenage motorists by encouraging better decision making and safety conscious behavior behind the wheel, Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed the week of October 14 to 20 as Teen Driver Safety Week in Wisconsin.

Based on miles driven, teen drivers are involved in fatal crashes at four times the rate of most adult drivers. The reasons why teens continue to be killed and injured in traffic crashes at an alarming rate are no mystery.

“Teens are more likely to crash because they are less experienced drivers,” says State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety. “They also tend to speed, drive aggressively, and take other dangerous risks such as texting while driving. Young people also are killed in traffic crashes at far higher rates than other age groups because they are the least likely to buckle up.”

Nationally, about half of the teens who die in crashes each year are passengers. A major focus of National Teen Driver Safety Week is to urge teenage passengers to make sensible decisions such as not riding with inexperienced or impaired drivers, not distracting the driver, and always wearing a safety belt.

Traffic safety officials stress that the risk of a crash increases significantly when teen drivers have multiple teen passengers in their vehicle. The risk of a fatal crash for a teen driver doubles with just one teen passenger and is four to five times higher with three or more teen passengers, according to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a sponsor of the National Teen Driver Safety Week.

“Inexperienced teen drivers can be easily distracted by their teen passengers when they make a lot of noise, move around suddenly, or urge the driver to speed or drive recklessly,” Major Huxtable says. “To help prevent these dangerous situations, Wisconsin has a graduated driver license requirement for new drivers under age 18 that helps them gain valuable experience behind the wheel while limiting the number of teen passengers in their vehicles.”

Parents also have an important role in preventing needless deaths and injuries among teen drivers. WisDOT offers a parent and teen driving contract that helps establish rules and consequences for a teen’s driving behavior. The WisDOT parent and teen driving contract is available on the WisDOT web at

Moreover, parents must set a good example for safe driving behavior by obeying speed limits, buckling up, and eliminating distractions behind the wheel.


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