I dread the sound of sirens this time of year. It seems like good weather breeds more auto accidents and fatalities, especially among young people. Highway crashes are the leading cause of death among young people. Preliminary data, released from the National Transportation Safety Board and featured in a recent National Public Radio news story titled ‘Push To End Teens’ Distracted Driving Targets Parents, Peers‘, indicates highway deaths among 16 to 17 year-olds are up 20% from last year, after several years of decline.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Organizations for Youth Safety, along with the Ad Council, and Mazda teamed up with the Project Yellow Light/Hunter Garner Scholarship fund to run a completion among high school and college students to create a video to educate fellow young people about the dangers of texting while driving. The winners are featured at the website and definitely provoke thought. Thought and early education is what it is all about, according to safe driving advocates and experts. Just like early messages about safety belts are now standard lines for parents, the same needs to occur when it comes to the misuse of electronic devices. Furthermore, Deborah Hersman, Chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, reminds parents that we need to practice we preach when it comes driving safely. Telling our children not to use a cell phone or text while they drive and doing so ourselves is the wrong message- like anything else! Our children are always watching us. Hersman points out that our driving behavior is one of the best indicators of our children’s.
Other measures have been underway to increase safe driving among young people. Graduated licenses are law in all 50 states. Limiting teen drivers in one vehicle, along with restrictions on electronic devices in cars and nighttime driving have all been beneficial, according to Hersman. But, when there is a 20% increase in highway deaths among this population in one year, we must realize we have a very serious issue on our hands and this campaign must be a personal, parental, school and governmental blitz…we all have a role and responsibility!