WETHERSFIELD - National Teen Safe Driver Week begins today and Connecticut continues to show strong improvements in stopping fatal crashes among these young and inexperienced drivers. In 2008 Connecticut passed tougher laws aimed at improving safety for 16 and 17-year-old drivers and the data indicate that the laws are effective in reducing fatalities related to teen driving.
Connecticut data obtained from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System shows a 53 percent decline in the number of people killed since 2008 in crashes involving a 16 or 17-year-old driver, according to Dr. Neil Chaudhary, Chief Executive Officer of Preusser Research Group, a transportation research firm located in Trumbull. These statistics take into consideration that the increased risk associated with teen drivers impacts not only their own lives, but also the lives of other road users, too.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens and teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and proven strategies, such as special laws governing teen drivers, can improve the safety of young drivers on the road, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Connecticut has some of the strictest novice teen driver laws, referred to as graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, in the nation. Amid the myriad of factors that may impact frequency of crashes, it is likely that these laws had a direct impact on the decline in crashes, deaths and injuries associated with 16 and 17-year-old drivers. Despite these strict GDL laws, there is always room for improvement that could further increase the safety of our teens driving in Connecticut,” said Dr. Chaudhary
When comparing just the year when tougher Connecticut laws went into effect in 2008 to last year alone (2016), there is a 26 percent drop (5,982 to 4,399) in all crashes for this age group, according to data from the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center.
DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra said this week should remind parents to review the state’s teen driving laws
and create a safe driving agreement
with their teens.
“Proactive discussions at home or in the classroom, for example, can have tremendous influence on young drivers to make safe, responsible decisions when the keys to the vehicle are in their hands,” said Commissioner Bzdyra.
As part of Connecticut’s efforts to promote safety, DMV and Travelers sponsor a yearly high school video contest.
This year’s theme is “Teen Safe Driver: Could This Be You? Every Second Matters.” It focuses on having teens make videos about keeping safe despite temptations that could endanger their lives and those of others.
A 15-member DMV Teen Advisory Board created the theme for this year’s contest. The board members want to encourage high school teens to produce a video on how a split-second decision can make a difference when driving.
“The video contest raises awareness about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving,” said Maggie Silbo, a senior at Mercy High School in Middletown and a member of the DMV Teen Advisory Board. “By participating in the contest, teens have the opportunity to help peers, save lives, win monetary awards for themselves and their school.”
For more information on the DMV-Travelers Teen Safe Driving Video Contest, visit http://ct.gov/teendriving/contest