Risk of teen drivers reaches others

New teenage drivers are more dangerous than previously thought: Nearly two of every three people killed in crashes involving 15- to 17-year-old drivers are people other than the driver, auto club AAA will announce today.

Teenagers have long been the riskiest on the road. AAA’s analysis shows that unlike elderly drivers, who mostly kill themselves when they crash, new teen drivers involved in wrecks have an impact far beyond their own families.

“When we talk about teen driver safety, it tends to be viewed as a problem that affects teen drivers,” says Robert Darbelnet, CEO of the auto club. “I don’t want to de-emphasize the importance of (teenage) casualties, but your mother might be in a car hit by a teen driver.”

James Champagne, chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association, agrees. “The safety of all members of the driving public is jeopardized unless we reduce the number of teen driver crashes,” Champagne says.

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Crashes from 1995 through 2004 involving drivers 15 to 17 killed 30,917 people, according to the AAA’s analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About 64% of the deaths were passengers, people in other vehicles or pedestrians.

Teen drivers killed occupants of other vehicles at a rate almost five times as high as elderly drivers and about three times as high as 45- to 49-year-old drivers, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis of federal data from 1993 through 1997.

AAA plans to use the findings to push state legislators to enact tougher teen-licensing laws. Thirty-two states restrict whom new teen drivers can transport and when they can drive.

The Insurance Institute study says teenagers’ risk of dying in a crash nearly doubles when one male passenger is in the car; it more than doubles when two or more young male passengers are in the car.

Jennifer Reeves has been working to change teen-licensing laws since her 18-month-old daughter, Hanna, was killed in a crash involving a teen driver in 1999.

Reeves’ sedan was rear-ended by a large pickup driven by a 16-year-old girl carrying three teenage passengers. The teens walked away from the San Antonio crash without injuries; Reeves and her 6-week-old daughter had minor injuries. Hanna was pronounced dead when she got to the hospital.

“They just lack the experience and the maturity to multitask,” Reeves says of young drivers. “Limiting the number of passengers gives them the ability to concentrate.”

Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have found that 4% of children in the crashes it studied were being driven by teens. Twelve percent of kids with serious injuries were in teen-driven vehicles.

Children’s Hospital’s findings, based on an analysis of crashes reported to State Farm Insurance, showed that teens also are transporting far more than their peers: 40% of the teen-driven child passengers in the study were 12 years or younger.

“It’s tempting to be lured by the convenience of having other options for getting kids to and from school and practices, but the risks are just too great,” AAA’s Darbelnet says.

Source:  USA TODAY

Safe Teen Driving Club Welcomes Ms. Jackie Holmes as Spokesperson

Atlanta, Feb. 27, 2008 – The Safe Teen Driving Club welcomes Ms. Jackie Holmes – Auburn University Senior, Miss America Contestant and passionate ambassador on teen driving safety issues – and appointed her this week as Club Spokesperson.  In her new position Ms. Holmes will take an active role speaking to students and parents on behalf of the Club, and making her unique perspective on teen driving safety known through the Club’s newsletter to its subscribers nationwide.

Ms. Holmes chose teenage driving as her personal focus after six of her peers died in car accidents throughout her high school years, each in a crash that could have been prevented.  She counsels teens that “knowledge is power, and with more knowledge students will be given the power to make intelligent decisions behind the wheel of a car.”Ms. Holmes shares her message that safe driving saves lives by traveling throughout the state of Georgia, speaking to students and parents. Teachers, PTA representatives, youth groups, parent organizations and others are encouraged to contact Jackie to arrange speaking and educational engagements.

Her clear and compelling point of view on teen driving captures the attention of teens, who suffer more injury and fatality from driving crashes than any other cause.  Ms. Holmes competes in the Miss America Organization and is the current Miss Rome Georgia (www.missrome.org). Each contestant in the Miss America Organization must select a community service platform about which she feels passionate. Jackie has been promoting Teenage Driving Safety and Awareness through her pageant activities for the past four years.   Ms. Holmes is a senior at Auburn University majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Music. She began competing in the Miss America Organization after high school to earn money for college.“We are overjoyed to have Jackie helping to spread the word and educate teenagers on driving safety issues,” says Club CEO Allan Ramsay. “Her enthusiasm for working with teens and her unfortunate experience in losing friends throughout high school gives her real credibility with young people. She’ll certainly have a positive impact on those who meet her and hear her speak.”About Safe Teen Driving Club

Safe Teen Driving Club helps parents protect and safeguard their teen drivers with the goal of reducing driving crashes and fatalities. The Club provides a suite of educational material, and products and services proven to reduce crash rates. These enable parents to establish effective driving rules, monitor their teen’s driving behaviors and track compliance with those rules. The Club supports the Joshua Brown Foundation, a 501c3 working to enhance driver’s training; provides fundraising opportunities for non profit organizations; and, provides an employee discount program for partner companies. For further information on Safe Teen Driving Club, visit www.SafeTeenDrivingClub.org.

 Source:  SafeTeenDrivingClub.org