Officials hope to raise awareness about need to reverse youth fatality statistics
From 2008 to 2012, 103,002 crashes involving at least one 16- to 19-year old driver occurred in Pennsylvania, resulting in 851 fatalities. Of those crashes, nearly half were attributed to speeding, inexperience, distraction, or improper or careless turning, a state news release said.
In response, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Barry Schoch announced Friday that Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed Oct. 20-26 as Teen Driver Safety Week in Pennsylvania to coincide with a national observance.
PennDOT is using this opportunity to remind parents and guardians that adult supervision is a critical component of keeping teen drivers safe on the roads, recognizing that parents and guardians are an integral part of teen driving success even after they have been licensed.
“Safely operating a vehicle requires complex evaluations, split-second decisions and intricate maneuvers and to help keep kids safe, parents and guardians must thoroughly evaluate a teen driver’s knowledge, skills and abilities behind the wheel,” Schoch said. “Adults set a positive, safe example for young drivers in their family and continuing to monitor young drivers after they receive their license helps keep young drivers safe.”
The risk of a crash involving any of these factors can be reduced through practice, limiting the number of passengers riding with a teen driver, obeying all rules of the road and using common sense, the release said.
As a part of their obligation to help their children become responsible and safe drivers, parents and guardians are urged to talk to teens about safe driving skills before they turn 16; encourage teens to avoid distractions behind the wheel; limit the number of passengers teens are allowed to have in their vehicle; limit dawn, dusk and nighttime driving until teens gain more experience; gradually increase the amount of time and distance teens are allowed to drive, and ride with their teens occasionally to monitor driving skills.
A recent study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that 75 percent of serious teen crashes were due to a critical teen driver error, with three common errors accounting for nearly half of all serious crashes: driving too fast for conditions, being distracted and failing to detect a hazard.
PennDOT is proud to announce the availability of an additional, optional tool for parents and guardians to utilize in their education efforts: PennDOT’s new “Teen Driver” plate. The plate features an inverted triangle in red, with the words “Teen Driver” appearing in yellow letters in the triangle. The phrase, “Please Be Courteous,” is featured in blue letters on the sides of the triangle. The letters “T” and “D” appear vertically to the right of the symbol.
The plate is available for $20 and can be ordered by visiting www.dmv.state.pa.us. More information on teen driver safety can be found at http://www.teendriversource.org/more_pages/page/get_behind_national_teen_driver_safety_week_ntdsw_/teen#sthash.7U6Gs6FE.dpuf.