FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2015
CT Marks Its Own Safe Teen Driving Awareness Week
Starts Today, Runs to December 12
State Leaders Salute Advocates Who Help Spread Message Statewide
WETHERSFIELD – Today is the start of Connecticut’s Safe Teen Driving week (Dec. 6-12) with state leaders, community organizers, health professionals and safety advocates statewide marking the importance of safety as well as special laws and training for this youngest group of drivers.
“We take time in Connecticut annually in December to pledge again the need for safe driving for this newly licensed group and to praise the efforts of everyone who carries this safety message across our state in support of our graduated driver license laws,” said DMV Commissioner Andres Ayala, Jr.
Three mothers whose teenage sons were killed in car crashes in 2002 championed this special week in Connecticut many years ago and formed a safety advocacy group called !MPACT also known as Mourning Parents Act. Much of the credit for the teen driving awareness goes to these and other advocates who each day give time, energy and money to promote safety to novice drivers, their parents or guardians, and their communities.
“Teen drivers in Connecticut have an advantage--laws that protect them, parents who care, and the knowledge that when the GDL laws are followed, they are safer behind the wheel,” said David Shapiro, MD, Vice Chairman, Department of Surgery and Chief of Surgical Critical Care at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford.
Some recent highlights in 2014 regarding the effectiveness of the state’s special laws for 16- and 17-year-old drivers include:
• No 16 or 17-year-old passenger deaths.
• Only one death among 16- and 17-year-old drivers who are governed by the state’s GDL program.
• There remains a 64-percent reduction in the deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers when comparing Connecticut from 1999 to 2003 before any restrictive teen driving laws to a recent period 2011-2014 following the strengthening of teen driving laws. Restrictions were first put in place in 2004 and enhanced in 2008.
• A study released earlier this year by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center shows the state’s GDL is reducing fatalities and that the teen driving laws – not maturity – are behind the reductions by limiting exposure to hazardous situations.
• In this age group, crashes with injuries show a 13-percent decline for 2013, the most recent year for crash data, compared to 2012 and 2011.
• Delayed licensing among 16 and 17 year-olds continues as numbers show a consistent decline compared to those before the 2008 laws went into effect. Meanwhile, the population of this age group has remained nearly the same.
Outreach work across the state during the last several years has taken many forms. It included new and ramped up programs at DMV and the state Department of Transportation. In addition, educational programs are offered by other state agencies as well as by hospitals’ injury prevention centers statewide and safety advocates, such as !MPACT, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Bloomfield author Timothy Hollister whose book Not So Fast -- Parenting Your Teen Through The Dangers of Driving now includes a Spanish edition.
"As a Level I trauma center, we have witnessed firsthand the devastation that families face following a motor vehicle crash resulting from unsafe teen driving practices. Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital is committed to our relationship with the DMV as well as other safety advocates to make an impact in reducing these types of events. Our hope is that by reaching diverse populations and educating all teens in the state of Connecticut, we can prevent unsafe driving practices, " said Pina Violano, PhD, RN, manager of Injury Prevention, Community Outreach & Research at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.