Due to stronger and more effective graduated driver licensing laws and an increased awareness of the risks to teen drivers, we have seen about a 50 percent decrease in teen driver fatalities over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death to teens, according to the NHTSA.
The injury prevention program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has a strong teen driver project funded by The Allstate Foundation called “FOCUS – Action Against Distraction” Driver Simulator Program.
The project includes taking driving simulators (for impaired and distracted driving) to high schools to interact with and educate young and future drivers about risk factors. Schools participating in the program can compete for mini-grants to expand their own student led projects around safe driving or other issues teens are facing.
An annual teen summit will occur on December 7, 2016 which will also be led by the teen students and will be an interactive, hands-on program they can then take back to their schools to implement.
In the spring of 2017, the Allegheny County Teen Driver Competition will allow students to compete for scholarship money and the invitation to move on to the state competition. All of these activities are free to the schools and students. Please contact our injury prevention department at 412-692-5931 if you are interested in bringing the FOCUS program to your school district.
Facts to remember:
*Parents are the most significant role model for teen drivers, and that role modeling begins many years before your teen is ready to drive.
*Seat belts double your chances of surviving a motor vehicle crash – buckle up, not just yourself, but everyone in the car. An unbuckled passenger becomes a projectile in a crash.
*Distractions that take your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or mind off of driving cause car crashes. Driving is a focused activity.
*Speeding gives you less time to react to road hazards, increases the force of a crash, and requires longer time to stop the vehicle – stay within the speed limit and go even slower when you see children in the area.