By Robert Sumwalt
This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week — and of all the lifesaving weeks in the year — this is one that can make a real big difference. Traffic accidents account for 36 percent of all deaths among 15 to 20 year olds. In fact, car crashes kill more young people every year than suicide, drugs, violence, and alcohol – combined. This is why the NTSB placed Teen Driver Safety on its Most Wanted List.
Teen Driver Safety is one of the NTSB’s highest national advocacy priorities, and an area in which we see far too many states moving far too slowly.
This week, I had a wonderful opportunity to address the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) National Teen Distracted Driving Summit. I applaud NOYS for its aggressive stands on underage drinking and driving, seat belt use, and Graduated Driver Licensing.
As I said in my remarks at the National Teen Distracted Driving Summit, it is in the area of Graduated Driver Licensing where NOYS can make an enormous, and immediate, impact. You don’t have to wait on your state legislatures to change their laws on GDLs, or underage drinking and driving. You can reach out to your peers directly and educate them on the right behaviors, the safest behaviors. It’s that personal, one-on-one interaction that can effect meaningful change.
To help you — as a teen, a parent, or a friend or neighbor — to take action to improve teen driving safety, here’s a first step. Watch this riveting video that NOYS showed at the summit on the importance of teen driving safety. You can bet that I am going to make sure my 17-year-old watches it, too.
Robert L. Sumwalt has been a Member of the NTSB since 2006. He is a frequent contributor to the blog.