For Immediate Release
December 4, 2016
CT Marks Its Own Teen Safe Driving Awareness Week
Starts Today and Runs to December 10
State Leaders Salute Advocates Who Help Spread Message Statewide
WETHERSFIELD – Sunday marks the beginning of Connecticut’s Teen Safe Driving Week (Dec. 4-10) with state leaders saluting the efforts of advocates statewide who work throughout the year to remind teens, parents and their communities about the importance of following the state’s special laws for this youngest group of drivers.
“Our efforts to raise awareness of safe driving habits, amongst not only our youngest and most inexperienced drivers, but also with parents and communities across the state has led to a dramatic drop in the number of teens killed in automobile crashes,” Governor Dannel P. Malloy said. “I want to thank the tireless efforts of safety advocates and educators who have worked to spread this message, which has saved countless lives and prevented an untold number of accidents.”
Three mothers whose teenage sons were killed in car crashes in 2002 championed this special week in Connecticut 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 many other advocates who each day give time, energy and money to promote safety to novice drivers, their parents or guardians, and their communities.
“Teaching our young drivers to be responsible behind the wheel keeps our roads safer for everyone,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “Connecticut’s strict teen driving laws help save lives, but we have to be tireless in our efforts to teach responsibility, model good road habits, and give young people the tools they need to make good decisions every time they are in the car.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in U.S. teenagers. Connecticut adopted in 2008 more stringent teen driving laws to raise awareness and reduce crashes, injuries and deaths. The state has seen an 82-percent reduction in fatalities for 16 and 17 year-old drivers from a high of 11 in 2002 and to an average of two per year since the tougher laws began.
"Whether you're a parent, a teacher, a policymaker or a peer, we all can play a positive role in helping teenagers develop safe driving habits," said Attorney General George Jepsen. "I commend the many advocates who have dedicated their time and efforts to further the important discussion about safe teen driving. While there is always more work to do, those efforts have made a significant difference in encouraging safe behavior behind the wheel."
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Michael Bzdyra said, “It’s important to take the time to recognize the efforts of community organizers, health professionals, and safety advocates who deliver this safety message and support the state’s graduated driver licensing laws. This week continues the positive momentum to keep getting that safety message out to newly licensed drivers.”
In an ongoing effort to prevent roadway fatalities and injuries, the Governor’s Highway Safety Office at the State Department of Transportation (DOT) has continued its diverse outreach to teen drivers. DOT has brought the ‘Save a Life Tour’ distracted driving program back to Connecticut for the fourth consecutive year to visit 60 high schools. Additionally, funding has again been provided for the “Not My Kid” public service announcement and media campaign to educate parents and teens about the dangers of teen drinking and driving. This message was broadcast this past summer during the concert season and will be featured in movie theaters across Connecticut this holiday season. To further reach students and teen drivers, the DOT is developing the ‘Choices Matter’ impaired driving program for high schools later in the school year.
“The Connecticut Department of Transportation continues to search for new and effective ways to keep teen drivers safe,” said DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “As a dedicated member of the State Coalition for the Prevention of Underage Drinking, our Highway Safety Office has funded and promoted a variety of safe-driving programs. This includes visiting high schools throughout the state, using state-of-the-art distracted driving simulators, impaired driving impact speakers and an educational documentary to remind Connecticut teens that their main concern behind the wheel must always be their safety.”
In addition, outreach work over the last several years has taken many forms. Educational programs are offered by other state agencies, hospitals’ injury prevention programs, law enforcement and high schools. Safety advocate groups, such as !MPACT and Mothers Against Drunk Driving continue their work, along with individuals like Bloomfield author Timothy Hollister, who wrote a book Not So Fast – Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving that is available in English and Spanish.