FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 15, 2021
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / email@example.com / 301-442-2249 (C)
Allison Kennedy / firstname.lastname@example.org / 360-281-7033 (C)
Statement on National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 17-23)
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading killer of teenagers in the U.S. Proven traffic safety laws and collision avoidance technology can prevent them.
This National Teen Driver Safety Week, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) is urging a “two-lane” approach to reduce the more than 4,600 fatalities in crashes involving young drivers (ages 15 – 20) that occur on roadways in the U.S. each year. Comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs in every state, alongside requirements and performance standards for vehicle safety technology proven to prevent and mitigate crashes, can significantly curb this tragic death and injury toll.
“Every day in the U.S., seven teens die due to motor vehicle crashes, and hundreds more are injured, on average,” said Stephen W. Hargarten, MD, MPH, Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, and Consumer Co-chair of Advocates. Hargarten continued, “Young drivers make up a disproportionate percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As an emergency medicine physician, I have seen the traumatic and devastating impact of crashes on young people and their families. In recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week, I urge lawmakers to pursue prevention policies and strategies as the most effective solutions which include upgrading state traffic safety laws and requiring proven crash avoidance technology in all new vehicles.”
Advocates recommends the adoption of an optimal GDL program for novice drivers and rates each state and the District of Columbia on the enactment of these critical components in our annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws:
- Minimum age 16 for a learner’s permit;
- 6-month or longer holding period;
- 50 hours or more of supervised driving, 10 of which must be at night;
- GDL cell phone restriction (except in an emergency);
- Nighttime driving restriction;
- Passenger restriction; and,
- Age 18 or older for an unrestricted license.
Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said, “As a mother of two teen drivers, I am keenly attuned to the urgent need for states to enact comprehensive GDL laws (and for parents/caregivers to know or even exceed them) and for the U.S. Department of Transportation to set safety standards for new technologies such as automatic emergency braking (AEB). New cars are safer cars, generally speaking. However, not every family can afford a new car or the upcharge most manufacturers impose for luxury packages which include advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) along with other non-safety ‘bells and whistles.’ This National Teen Driver Safety Week, we want to shine a spotlight on these proven solutions which could protect our most dangerous driving population and all on the roads with them. Now is the time for our state and federal leaders to advance proven lifesaving solutions and end the suffering and heartache resulting from crashes involving teens.”
In the coming year, Advocates will be working to build momentum for GDL upgrades including:
- In New Jersey: the enactment of a supervised driving requirement and an extended learner’s instruction period.
- In California: an extension of the GDL program to age 21, in response to the fact that many young people are choosing to delay getting licensed. As a result, they are aging out of GDL programs and their benefits.
- In New York: advancing a cell phone restriction to curb distraction for novice, young drivers.
“GDL programs are effective because they introduce teens to driving gradually and in controlled environments. State Farm encourages all states to enact comprehensive GDL laws, as recommended by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety’s Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. Additionally, crash avoidance technology in vehicles provides a critical safety backstop for less experienced teen drivers, who are more likely to make mistakes while driving,” said Alan Maness, Vice President of Federal Affairs for State Farm Insurance Companies, and Insurance Co-chair of Advocates. Maness continued, “State Farm supports requirements for vehicle safety technology features including automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW) and blind spot detection (BSD) to prevent crashes and save lives. Its potential has been clearly demonstrated in research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Further, new research by IIHS indicates that technology like AEB, LDW and BSD could address as much as a third of all crashes involving teen drivers. We urge the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to take action to ensure the benefits of these technologies are widely available to all drivers and road users.”
For more information about teen/young driver safety:
- Tune in for a pair of panel discussions hosted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on GDL programs. Advocates will participate in the October 21 panel.
- Learn about teen driver safety programs and resources offered by leading insurers including: American Family Insurance, Amica, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Nationwide, NJM, State Farm, and Selective.
- NHTSA teen driver safety information.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement, and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to improve road safety in the U.S. Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.