Positive Teen Driver Behavior at the Heart of Reducing Car Crashes

Positive Teen Driver Behavior at the Heart of Reducing Car  Crashes

Driving is the most dangerous activity most of us do. Every. Single. Day. It is no wonder fewer and fewer teens seek to get their driver licenses each year. Even with fewer teen drivers on the road, 1,603 young drivers died in 2019, the latest numbers available. Sadly, the total death toll on our nation’s roads in that same year tallied 36,096 deaths.

According to the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), in 2019:

These statistics are staggering. While motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for teens (15-18 years old) in the United States and globally, there is a veil of hope. Since 2009, the data shows a decline in teen driver fatalities.

Teens in the Driver Seat® (TDS), developed at Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), has addressed teen driver behavior through peer-to-peer outreach for 20 years. A recent 2019-2021 survey results of more than 11,300 teens from TDS program schools reveal we are making progress.

According to the 2019-2021 TDS survey of teen self-reported behavior, 68% of students reported NOT drinking and driving in the last 30 days and 51% of students reported NOT texting and driving. However, in that same survey, 73% of students believe texting while driving is completely unacceptable, but the gap in these numbers show they still do it. Through this robust research, TDS finds that while students recognize the risky behavior, they need more incentives and positive reasons to change their behavior. The more programs, such as TDS, research to understand what motivates teens to make better choices, the more effective peer-to-peer led outreach can be.

The health and safety of our youngest road users is of utmost importance for groups like Teens in the Driver Seat and General Motors, whose relationship began in 2019. “Together, we can help improve these statistics. General Motors believes programs like Teens in the Driver Seat® can help make a difference,” said Hal Garling, assistant manager of Corporate Giving at GM. “We envision a future with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion, and by supporting successful programs like Teens in the Driver Seat®, coupled with new and innovative technology, GM is working to help make that vision a reality.”

Thanks to funding from General Motors, TDS is offering its plug-and-play, extra-curricular safety program to interested high school teen teams across twenty states. The school will receive an educational toolkit with posters, banners, yard-signs, and other items for campus outreach – all at no cost to the schools. Schools will also have access to virtual learning resources for use in- and outside the classroom and are eligible to earn cash for their schools when teens conduct education and outreach.

“Teen drivers today face more distractions behind the wheel – and in the car – today more than ever before.,” explains TDS founder Russell Henk, a senior research engineer, and program director of TTI’s Youth Transportation Safety Program. “Most teens make the right decisions when they see their peers and parents also making the right decisions and caring enough to speak up. Giving them the best information, encouraging them to share that with their peers, and rewarding responsible behavior is what TDS is all about.”

October 18th – 23rd is National Teen Driver Safety Week. There is no better time to commit to saving lives on our roads.

See what state we’re active in and schools may claim their free program kit by signing up at https://www.t-driver.com/signup. Join us today and help us reach the goal of zero deaths on our roadways.

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