“5 to Drive” campaign seeks to boost teen driver safety
At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as it is throughout the entire Department of Transportation, safety is our highest priority. And when it comes to safety behind the wheel, we are especially concerned about our least experienced drivers, America's teens.
That’s why on Tuesday, I was pleased to join Dr. Flaura Winston of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for National Teen Driver Safety Week and the launch of NHTSA’s new education campaign directed at the parents and guardians of young drivers: “5 to Drive.”
“5 to Drive” is all about getting parents and guardians to engage in an ongoing discussion with their teens about safe driving. We’re asking parents and guardians to reinforce these five basic rules with any young drivers in their family:
- No cell phone use or texting while driving,
- No extra passengers,
- No speeding,
- No alcohol, and
- No driving or riding without a seat belt.
Adults control the keys. “5 to Drive” is the conversation that needs to happen before you hand them over.
Many teens won't take safe driving seriously unless parents and guardians lay down the law. So, please, establish these rules and back them up with a zero-tolerance policy before your teens hit the road. If parents make clear that unsafe driving is unacceptable, they can help save lives. After all, no teen with a driver’s license wants to end up back on the school bus because mom and dad took away the car keys.
We’re losing too many young people in crashes that are 100 percent preventable. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of 14 to 18-year olds. In 2011, for example, more than 2,300 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver aged 14 to 18. That's more than 6 deaths each day. And nearly 60 percent of those killed were teen drivers and teen passengers.
Whether it’s drunk or distracted driving, not wearing seat belts, or speeding, we need to redouble our efforts to help our nation's young people make the right choices --as drivers and passengers.
How do we do that? By reaching them right where they live.
By enlisting moms and dads and other caregivers to engage as never before and make clear that many common teen road behaviors are dangerous, illegal, and potentially deadly.
Then, keep the safe-driving conversation going. A teen’s first six months behind the wheel are the most risky. But when safe driving becomes a normal topic of household discussion, it becomes a normal behavior.
Let’s get the safety conversation started. Use the “5 to Drive” and set the rules before your teens hit the road. Together, we can save lives.
David Strickland is the Administratior of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.