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Focus on National Teen Driver Safety Week

Focus on National Teen Driver Safety Week
Local law enforcement officials across Tennessee are partnering with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office to help keep teens safe on the roadway during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 19-25. The GHSO is also asking Tennesseans to step up and speak out by reminding teens about important safety issues, like underage drinking and safety belt use, during National Teen Driver Safety Week. “Many teens feel that bad things will never happen to them, but fatal crashes involving teens happen every day,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “In 2007 alone, we lost 166 Tennessee teenagers in motor vehicle crashes. It is up to all of us to remind our teens to be safe behind the wheel every trip, every time.” During the academic year, teens hit the road with increased frequency and regularity, heading to and from school, sporting events, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and many other events that fill their social calendars. Unfortunately, too many teens get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all and aren’t buckling up when they get behind the wheel or ride with others in a motor vehicle. High fatality rates and low seat-belt-use rates among teens continue to reach distressing levels year after year, a trend the GHSO is working to reverse. In addition, the GHSO reminds teens and parents that underage drinking is against the law and can have deadly consequences. “Teens and parents must remember that underage drinking is deadly serious,” said GHSO Director Kendell Poole. “Parents need to know that hosting a party where alcohol is served to minors is illegal. These parties put teens and others in the community in danger and the parents themselves at risk given the legal liabilities they face.” Every year, teens consume alcohol at parties hosted in their own homes or in the homes of friends and end up hurt or killed in highway crashes. Nationally, 64 percent of all drivers or motorcycle operators ages 15 to 20 who were involved in deadly traffic crashes and had a BAC of .08 or higher died as a result of the crash. According to the United States Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of fatalities among teens in the United States. In 2007 alone, 4,540 teen passenger vehicle occupants 16 to 20 years old were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and more than half (2,502) were unrestrained at the time of the fatal crash. “Convincing teens to buckle up every time they set foot in a motor vehicle, whether as a driver or a passenger, is not an easy task,” said Poole. “It’s a big job and it’s going to take the entire community – parents, teachers, neighbors, friends and teens themselves – working together to drive the message home to ensure the health and safety of all Tennessee teens.” Teens should avoid alcohol and parents should be committed to never being a promoter of underage drinking. Remember Underage Drink-ing, Adult Consequences. Also, teens need to be reminded that whether they are driving across town or just around their neighborhood, wearing a seat belt is the best way to protect themselves and their passengers from severe injury or even death in the event of a motor vehicle crash. Wearing a seat belt costs nothing, but not wearing it can cost a life. WCP 10.21.08

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