WASHINGTON, D.C. (10/16/13) – The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) is helping raise awareness of distracted driving in teenagers during the National Teen Driver Safety Week – Oct. 20-26.
Inspired by the loss of classmates and friends, high school students throughout the nation have formed teen-led organizations and promoted educational opportunities that are shaping driving attitudes and behaviors.
“All too often, the devices are winning and our kids are losing—with tragic results,” said KOHS Executive Director Bill Bell. “Young people are America’s future, but it’s increasingly clear their future is in jeopardy due to the popularity of electronic devices constantly vying for their attention on our highways.”
The KOHS coordinates highway safety events in schools and communities throughout the year. The Distracted Driving (D2) Simulator is the most popular educational tool for high school students. The simulator exposes teens to the real-life hazards of distracted driving without actually putting their lives at risk. Drivers can receive and send phone calls and text messages while attempting to obey the rules of the road. More than 25 D2 programs have been conducted in high schools to date.
While no one is immune to distracting driving, teens are especially susceptible. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 344 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted teen driver in 2011. This age group also had the largest proportion of drivers who were reported distracted at the time of a crash – 11 percent. But it’s not just those in the car who are in danger from distracted driving. Numbers from 2011 also show 495 non-occupants, such as pedestrians, were killed in distraction-affected crashes. In addition, research showed that only a third of young drivers would speak up and say something to a driver who was talking on a handheld cell phone.
But not all the news about distracted driving is negative. Over the past five years, the number of people injured in distraction-affected crashes has fallen 14 percent.
States are taking great measures to reduce fatality and incident rates among teen drivers. Youth driving programs such as Graduated Driver Licensing have helped save young lives. In addition, NHTSA research shows that anti-texting laws and stronger law enforcement have helped significantly.
Currently, 41 states including Kentucky have passed legislation outlawing texting while driving.
Kentucky’s texting law bans texting for all drivers while the vehicle is in motion. For drivers younger than 18, use of all personal communication devices such as cell phones and pagers is prohibited while the vehicle is in motion.
For more information on teen driving safety, please visit www.nhtsa.gov; www.distraction.gov; or http://highwaysafety.ky.gov.
Information provided by Lisa Tolliver
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