Research indicates that driver distractions are a leading contributing factor in collisions involving young drivers, accounting for nearly 2,500 traffic collisions in Indiana in 2009. A driver can be distracted by many things, including loud music, cell phone use, eating while driving, and passengers in the vehicle.
One of the greatest risk factors young drivers face is the number of passengers in the vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), young drivers traveling with passengers are more than two times as likely as those traveling without passengers to be involved in a fatal collision.
“As parents, role models, and concerned citizens we have the power and responsibility to positively influence young driver behaviors,” said Dr. T. Neil Moore, executive director of ICJI. “We must first start with a review of our own driving behaviors to ensure that we are not modeling potentially risky driving behaviors that teens may pick up.”
In July 2009, Indiana implemented changes to the Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) law that limited passengers for the first 180 days and prohibited the use of telecommunications devices for drivers under the age of 18. This past July, additional restrictions were implemented that increased the age to obtain a permit and license, increased the permit holding period, and required at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice, including 10 hours at night.
“By supporting National Teen Driver Safety Week, it is our goal to not only educate young drivers but all Hoosier motorists about the dangers of distracted driving. Improving safety for our most inexperienced drivers on Indiana roadways remains our top priority,” said Moore.
Parents and teens can learn more about the latest research and recommendations on safe driving for teens at www.ridelikeafriend.com.
Established by Congress in 2007, National Teen Driver Safety Week promotes nationwide outreach efforts such as “Ride Like a Friend” to encourage communities to support the families of young drivers.