CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Getting a driver’s license has long been a rite of passage for 16-year-olds. Sadly, fatal car crashes too often come with that privilege. More than 5,000 teens die each year in car crashes.
To help reduce these tragedies from occurring, Congress in 2006 proclaimed the third week of October as National Teen Driver Safety Week. This year, the event will take place Oct. 19 to 25. Teenage drivers across West Virginia are being encouraged to “Ride Like a Friend” as part of the campaign in an effort to raise awareness of the risks involved and possible solutions to the high rate of crashes involving teen drivers and their teen passengers.
With gasoline prices at an all time high, new teen drivers may be pressured to give rides to their friends. However, while many teen drivers buckle up, most of their teen passengers don’t. Passengers ages 12 to 17 are more likely to die in a car crash then younger children, according to a study by State Farm Insurance and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
To increase the awareness, teen drivers are encouraged to make sure they and their friends buckle up on every trip, every time and keep distractions to a minimum. Passengers can help teen drivers by scanning the road and navigating as well as respecting the driver.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has listened to the voices of more than 700 teen drivers and passengers for the purpose of developing a research-based online campaign toolkit of activities and messages. This toolkit is available at www.ntdsw2008.org. Additional information is available at www.chop.edu/youngdrivers.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.