Contact: Jennifer McDonald at 916-531-4446
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. In an effort to put the brakes on the high number of young casualties every year, Impact Teen Drivers, a new public awareness and education program, is being introduced in public high schools throughout the state beginning Monday, April 14, which is California Teen Driving Safety Week.
As part of the campaign during Teen Driving Safety Week, electronic message boards throughout California will encourage safe driving.
“The Legislature, by adopting resolutions authored by Sen. Tom Torlakson (D- Antioch), Assemblymen Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) and Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), saw the importance of bringing attention to the imperative need of reducing teen auto accidents – the number one killer of our beginning drivers,” said Jon Hamm, President of Impact Teen Drivers and Executive Director of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP), one of the founding sponsors of Impact Teen Drivers.
Also working closely with the organization is Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. “The statistics prove that more action is needed to prevent teen deaths. In addition to the high rate of teen drivers who have an accident in their first year of driving, nationally the fatal crash risk per mile driven by 16-year-olds is twice that of 18-19-year-olds and about seven times the risk for drivers ages 30-59. With motor vehicle accidents being the leading cause of death of teens, it’s time to do something to change that and I’m pleased to support this new program,” said Supt. O’Connell.
“Far too many teenagers in California and across the nation have been injured or had their lives cut short because of unsafe driving,” O’Connell continued. “This awareness campaign provides an important opportunity to remind our teens that a driver’s license comes with rules and responsibilities.”
Impact Teen Drivers, prepared to meet the challenge, is also sponsored by the California Teachers Association (CTA) and California Casualty Insurance. The list of supporters also includes the California Highway Patrol (CHP), California State Firefighters Association (CFSA), the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). The program has a vast number of volunteers, including students who served as advisors in developing the program materials, teachers and parents of teens lost in accidents.
“The idea for creating the Impact Teen Drivers campaign came about through our partnership with educators and law enforcement, specifically the CAHP and CTA. We simply realized that we were in a position to truly make a difference by bringing these groups together in a way that had not been done before to provide a life-saving message to teens,” said George Bowen, Senior Vice President of California Casualty and Impact Teen Drivers board member.
Impact Teen Drivers has delivered more than 15,000 packets of classroom materials to more than 1,200 public high schools in California. The materials include a booklet outlining the campaign, a poster series for teachers to display in their classrooms and a DVD with several mini documentaries about the real impact and consequences of distracted driving.
California school teachers are being asked to share the materials with students who are either just learning to drive or who have just received their driver’s license. “Our teachers have the greatest access to teen drivers. We can make a real difference and save lives by educating our students about safe and unsafe driving habits. CTA is honored to partner with California Casualty and the California Association of Highway Patrolmen to deliver this message to California’s teens,” added CTA President David A. Sanchez.
Impact Teen Drivers has also launched a website (www.impactteendrivers.org) with resources for teachers, interactive elements, fast facts for parents and teens and an interactive wall for people to create their own memorials to remember friends and family members lost in accidents.
California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow added, “Our officers tell us one of the most stressful parts of their job is when they have to tell the parents of a teen that their child was killed in an automobile accident. We are proud to play a role in this educational program that could reduce accidents, save motorists from injury or death and keep a parent or family member from receiving heartbreaking news.”
See related story in the March 2008 California Educator.