Teen Motor Vehicle Fatalities Rise in 2012, Reversing Positive Trend
Parents of teenagers may think they don’t have influence on their kids, but when it comes to safe driving, they do — and it could mean the difference between life and death. From 2004 to 2011, rates of motor vehicle crash deaths among 15- to 19-year-olds in Colorado dropped more than 67 percent. However, in 2012, Colorado experienced a 10 percent rise in teen fatalities from 2011.
“The pairing of statewide education and heightened enforcement has contributed to a significant decline in teen driving fatalities, but the increase in 2012 is cause for concern,” said Ali Maffey, policy and communication coordinator at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Before teen drivers get behind the wheel on their own, experts suggest parents sign a contract with their teenager outlining clear rules and specific consequences if rules are broken. This accountability goes a long way in decreasing a teen’s risk of motor vehicle crash or fatality.”
In conjunction with National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 20-26, the Colorado Teen Driving Alliance launched a new online parent course providing step-by-step instructions on how parents can support their teens through Colorado’s Graduated Driver Licensing laws. The course was prompted by a new Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment survey of 738 parents of teens throughout Colorado showing only 6.4 percent of parents could accurately identify components of graduated driver licensing laws, including curfews, passenger restrictions and seat belt requirements.
“Teaching your teen to drive can be a daunting process,” said Carol Gould, highway safety manager at the Colorado Department of Transportation. “But the best way to put yourself at ease is to get up-to-speed on the process of getting a license, understand the specific restrictions for teen drivers and treat the learning process as a true partnership with your teen by helping each other navigate Colorado‘s laws and safety guidelines.”
All teen drivers must log 50 hours of practice driving with a parent or legal guardian. Experts recommend using this practice time to expose teens to a variety of road types and weather conditions. The online parent course guides parents through lesson ideas to cover during the 50 hours of practice driving. The learning process should not end once a teen gets his or her license. According to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teen drivers are 50 percent more likely to crash during the first month of driving on their own than they are after a full year of driving experience. After two years of driving experience, a teens’ accident rate is cut in half.
The Colorado Teen Driving Alliance is a group of government agencies, law enforcement and private partners who work together to reduce teen driving fatalities and injuries. To learn more about Colorado’s graduated driving licensing laws, how to support your teen through the process and access the online parent course, visit www.COTeenDriver.com.