LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - October 20 - 26 is the 7th annual National Teen Driver Safety Week, a resolution passed by Congress in 2007, with the intent being to keep this topic in the forefront of public awareness.
Gary Stephenson with State Farm Insurance joined THV11 This Morning to talk about why awareness for teen drivers is always needed.
One reason is that every year a new group of teenagers, and a new group of parents of first time drivers, become a part of this life experience. And, sadly, auto crashes continue to be the leading killer of teens in our country. Stephenson said approximately 4,000 teens are killed and 300,000 injured every year in United States.
To help better equip young drivers, Arkansas legislators passed a Graduated Drivers Licensing law in 2009, which is designed to gradually ease an inexperienced young person into their driving career. They are licensed to drive, but with some restrictions for their protection while they gain some experience.
GDL restrictions for "Intermediate licensed" drivers (16 & 17 year olds)
1. No cell phone use while driving.
2. Only 1 non-familial teen passenger allowed
3. Late night curfew
4. Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers,
Data from Arkansas Childrens Hospital, last summer, indicated GDL having a good impact in Arkansas. ACH looked at teen crashes in 2008 and 2010 (before/after GDL); statistics showed a 52% reduction in single vehicle teen driver fatalities, which results in an estimated 32 lives saved.
State Farm recently commissioned a national study on teen driving, comparing What Parents Think about their teen drivers, and what Teens say they do when out in the car on their own. Here are some of the observations from that study:
Late night driving restriction:
• 69% Parents believe their teen almost always follow restrictions. (66% parents say they monitor)
48% Teens say they almost always follow the law. (only 32% teens say their parents monitor).
Teen passenger restriction:
• 70% Parents believe their teen driver almost always follows this restriction (65% say they monitor)
43% Teens say the almost always follow this restriction (27% teens say parent monitors)
Stephenson said nearly all teen crashes are due to operator error. Driver Error means we just need to learn to make better choices! Obey the law; Don't drive distracted.