(October 20, 2008) Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of American teenagers. In fact by the end of this year, Maryland teenagers will be involved in more than 20,000 crashes, and more than 100 of them will result in death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, young drivers, 16 to 20 years old, were involved in approximately 1.6 million, or 26 percent of all automobile crashes nationwide in 2006. Additionally, 7,975 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers.
For those reasons, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and Choose Safety for Life partners say they are calling attention to these tragic and preventable crashes that result in death and injury by participating in the National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 19-25).
After more than 5,000 teens lost their lives in teen driver-related crashes in 2006, last year, the U.S. Congress in a Joint Resolution proclaimed the third week of October as National Teen Driver Safety Week. This years awareness week is rallying schools and communities to raise awareness of the risks associated with driving, and possible solutions to the resulting high rate of crashes involving this age group.
A new study, published last month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, shows that while most teen drivers buckle up, many of their passengers fail to do so. Furthermore, it is also well documented that one of the most significant risk factors in vehicle crash deaths for young passengers age eight to 17 is riding with young drivers.
Teen Driver Safety Week 08 coincides with the announcement of a video competition sponsored by SHAs Safety Office and Choose Safety for Life partners. Funded, in part, by a grant from the Ford Foundations Driving Skills For Life program, teams of junior and senior high school students will be challenged to produce a short video Public Service Announcement (PSA) highlighting the need for their peers to engage in safe driving habits.
The winning teams PSA will be aired on local television stations, and the sponsoring school will receive money to help with after-prom or other safety-related activities. Contest rules and details will be made available in the coming weeks at www.choosesafetyforlife.com .
We owe our newly licensed drivers every possible opportunity to develop safe driving habits, said Neil J. Pedersen, Maryland State Highway Administrator and Governors Highway Safety Representative. Apart from parental guidance and traditional law enforcer roles, we hope this video competition will engage teens in focusing on the issues of traffic safety and empower them with information needed to make solid choices on the road to Choose Safety for Life in all their travels.
Teen Driver Safety Week is one component of the Choose Safety for Life campaign, which provides one voice for drivers, motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and truckers. Ninety-three percent of traffic crashes occur because someone made a wrong choice on Maryland roadways. Virtually all traffic crash fatalities could be prevented if everyone practices these five key steps: B-SAFE Buckle up, Slow down speeding kills, Always drive sober, Focus, Everyone share the road.
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Source: Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA)