Broome Community College Driver's Education Class Fights No. 1 Cause of Teen Deaths: Car Crashes

‘Ride Like A Friend’ campaign targets risks for teen drivers and passengers during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 19 to 25

Car crashes continue to be the number one cause of death among teens. Studies have confirmed the connection between teen drivers transporting peer passengers and increased risk of fatal crashes. In fact, the presence of one passenger doubles the fatal crash risk for a teen driver and the risk increases with each additional passenger, yet recent research shows few teens recognize the impact passengers have on driver safety.

To combat this trend, Broome Community College (BCC) Driver’s Education Class is launching “Ride Like A Friend,” a campaign to promote safe passenger behaviors. The campaign will take place during National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 19 to 25.

“Ride Like A Friend” will include activities that showcase what teens can do as passengers to reduce the risk of a crash. Teens can help friends who are driving by keeping distractions to a minimum, wearing seatbelts and helping with directions when asked.

Although this year’s theme focuses on the connection between teen passengers and crash risk, BCC is planning to take a more comprehensive approach to reducing teen car crashes and addressing high risk behavior. Students will participate in a Keeping it Real Behind the Wheel presentation, a three part program, sponsored by the Broome County Health Department. During the first portion of the program, the Broome County Traffic Safety Coordinator will address not only the dangers of having peer passengers in the car but all aspects of distracted driving and how to prevent it. The second part of the presentation will include representatives from the New York State Police who will explain crash forces and the importance of wearing a safety belt. They will also demonstrate the effectiveness of safety belts with their “roll over” machine. The last portion of the program consists of a real life story of Megan Dunham, a fatal victim of distracted driving whose story is retold by her father Joel Dunham. BCC plans to kick off National Teen Driver Safety Week by hosting this presentation on October 16th.

In addition, National Teen Driver Safety Week organizers are urging parents and teen advocates to support graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws that restrict passengers for at least the first six months of licensure. Currently, 38 states and the District of Columbia have limits on passengers, ranging from none to two during the first six to 12 months of independent driving.

More information for parents is available at www.raisingsafedrivers.com. Teens will find tips on how to “Ride Like A Friend” at www.ridelikeafriend.com.

About National Teen Driver Safety Week

National Teen Driver Safety Week was established by Congress in 2007 in response to the more than 5,000 teens that died in teen-driver related crashes on U.S. roads in 2006. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies® played a key role in the designation and continue to support ongoing organizational efforts. Outreach efforts, such as National Teen Driver Safety Week campaigns, are needed so that families going through the learning-to-drive process are supported by their communities. It will take the will and initiative of teens, families, schools, law enforcement officers, and policymakers to successfully address the leading cause of death and acquired disability for U.S. teens.

10/15/2008