Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Archive for February, 2009

Arkansas looking to up teen driving laws

Posted by lapearce on February 17, 2009

If Arkansas and North Dakota legislatures get their way Kansas will officially be the only state in the union without graduated drivers license (GDL). The Arkansas bill would restrict teens from driving at night, only allow one teen passenger for drivers under the age of 18 (unless there is a licensed adult above the age of 21 also in the car), require teens to wear a seatbelt, and restrict cell phone use.

A similar bill was attempted last year but failed to pass. Here is a link to the story.

What I find most interesting about the bill is the part about seatbelts. Are they currently not mandatory in Arkansas? Also, how did the bill fail last year when more and more states were adopting similar laws and seeing how they pay off?

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Bridgestone launches “Think Before You Drive” web site

Posted by lapearce on February 17, 2009

This week at the Chicago Auto Show, Bridgestone unveiled their new drivers education program, aimed to education all drivers, but particularly those new to the road. “We know that car accidents are the leading cause of death among drivers aged 16 to 20,” says Christine Karbowiak, vice president of community and corporate relations at Bridgestone.

“We are fully committed to doing what we can to educate motorists — particularly new teenage drivers — on the importance of safe driving every time they get behind the wheel,” she notes. “We’re excited about the Think Before You Drive program and are eager to share it with all drivers.”

The Web site, Think Before You Drive, is an interactive site, with games and quizes to test your knowledge on car safety. The Web site also includes car care information, contracts for teen drivers, and lists of driving programs near you. Hopefully, Driving Concepts Foundation will soon be on that list, as a non-profit new driver educator in the Southern California area.

I have always admired Bridgestone as a company, and this just increases my respect for them even more. Kudos to Bridgestone!

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North Dakota aims to be 48th state with graduated drivers license program

Posted by lapearce on February 15, 2009

Ever state in the union except for North Dakota, Arkansas and Kansas have a graduated drivers license (GDL) program. GDL programs add restrictions to those within the first few years of driving that include: night driving, driving with friends, and driving with distractions. The program would also increase the permit time frame from six months to a year, and require 50 hours of supervised behind the wheel practice.

While far from perfect, GDL programs do a lot to decrease car crashes within the first years of driving. Studies show anywhere from a 20-50% decrease in crashes for new drivers under the GDL programs. The success of the programs is why so many states have adopted them.

More information on the attempts to add GDL to North Dakota can be found in this editorial in the Grand Folks Herald: http://www.grandforksherald.com/articles/index.cfm?id=106508

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CHP Unvails New Start Smart Program

Posted by lapearce on February 15, 2009

The California Highway Patrol is adding to an ever-growing number of companies, agencies and foundations trying to curb the extrodinarily high number of fatal teen deaths. The CHP program, Start Smart, is an class for teens and their parents that discusses traffic collision avoidance techniques, collision causing factors, driver/parent responsibilities, and seatbelt usage.  They also use testimonials from police officers and parents, who have lost teens in crashes.

Classes are being formed all over the state, where hundreds of teens and their parents are educated all at once. The program relies heavily on scare tactics to convince teens not to do dangerous activities. They use good statistics, and some good advice, but it sounds to me like a live-action Red Asphalt with stories about gory fatal collisions.

The parents and teens in the classes are apparently quite moved by the technique. One student, Dylan Blankenbaker told The Ramona Sentinel “It really opened my eyes about what could happen to me if I didn’t take every precaution that I could while I’m driving.It really scared me, scared me to do the right thing, always put on my seatbelt and think of the people around me.”

Blankenbaker’s mother was also happy with this course, “I so highly recommend it…. I really wish we could get this here a couple times a year…It really makes you think before you get behind the wheel.”

The class highlights some good areas, such as space management, speed management, visual skills (looking far ahead), and wearing seatbelts. While far better than the current DMV education, I feel the program would be better if they had some behind the wheel practice to show the teens why these skills work.

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Four Teen Driving Bills Moving in New Jersey

Posted by lapearce on February 14, 2009

Example of a new driver sticker used in Japan

Example of a new driver sticker used in Japan

Kyleigh’s law is named after Kyleigh Lauren D’Alessio, a 16-year-old honor student and recognized athlete from Long Valley, New Jersey, who died in a car crash involving a young provisional driver with multiple passengers. The bill remarks that 61% of teen passenger deaths occur with drivers who have their provisional license.

If passed, the law would:

· Require that the parent or guardian of a person under the age of 18 receive an informational brochure which clearly sets forth the special rules that apply to a holder of an examination permit or a provisional license.

· Require an orange hang tag/sticker to be displayed when a vehicle is being driven by the holder of a provisional license to 1) assist law enforcement in identifying an infraction; 2) will also help with the peer pressure of driving reckless and/or having more passengers than allowed; 3) with the car marked young drivers will know that they can be easily identified and will refrain from taking the risk)

· Require that an applicant for a provisional license wait one year after obtaining a learner’s permit before being issued a provisional license; (note: the State of New Jersey only requires a 6 hour driver’s training course and 6 months as a permit driver before obtaining a GDL/provisional license; completing one full year with a learner’s permit will provide the driver with more experience prior to obtaining a GDL/provisional license)

· Change the threshold for requiring a remedial training course from more than two motor vehicle points to two or more motor vehicle points.

· Change the threshold for mandatory license suspension from two or more motor vehicle offenses to any motor vehicle offense

· Increase the mandatory license suspension from three months to five months

The other bills currently working towards law would:

· Lower the night-time curfew for teen drivers to 11 pm

· Allow only one driver under the age of 21 in the car

· Change the name from “provisional license” to probationary license

· Require parents and teens to attend graduated drivers license orientation and require six hours behind-the-wheel-practice

· Ban plea bargains for teen drivers in the case of a motor vehicle violation that would result in a point.

· Requiring drivers to take remedial driving instruction if they receive a point.

If passed, these laws will help make New Jersey have some of the strictest laws for new drivers in the nation. I feel that many of these laws are on the right course. They help to bring parents into the process, which is pivitol. It has also been shown that fear of losing their license is great motivation to stop new drivers from breaking the law. Increasing the likelihood of points and suspension could have great success.

However, these laws still don’t address the real problem here: a lack of education. We’ll have to wait and see if having a sticker on the car lowers the probability that a new driver to drive dangerously. All of the other states will be watching New Jersey to see what effects these laws will have, and so will I.

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Dropped Cell Phone Leads to Fatal Crash

Posted by lapearce on February 14, 2009

I was just reading a report from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration today that sited that teen drivers did not see a link between distractions and crashes, even though many of them have accidents while distracted. The NHTSA actually recommended that: “If they can’t be talked out of multitasking they should be encouraged not to tailgate to avoid frequent rear-end collisions.” That mentality of treating a symptom and not a problem would not have saved Gladis A. Andrade-Zepeda today.

Gladis, 33, was driving early this morning on the 405 freeway with two passengers when she dropped her cell phone. As she looked for the phone, her car swerved across lanes and hit the center divider. Both Gladis and her passengers survived the accident, but then, she made the decision that cost her her life: she got out of the car.

Gladis was attempting to get her passenger in the backseat out of the car when another car, traveling at normal highway speeds, broadsided her vehicle, killing Gladis. Her car was completely dark since the lights were broken in the collision and she didn’t put her hazards on. The passenger still in the backseat survived both the initial crash and the secondary one with moderate injuries.

This tragic story reminds us of a few important considerations when driving:

1. Distractions kill. California’s new cell phone law does not prohibit the searching for or the dialing of a cell phone while driving. These are the most dangerous acts one can do with a phone while driving.

2. Put your hazards on after a collision. This will make your car visible to others to help avoid another crash. The same NHTSA study found that new drivers do not know what to do in an accident. I feel that better education in this area could have saved Gladis’s life.

3. Stay in your car. 4,000 lbs of metal around you offer better protection than your body alone.

My hopes and prayers go out to Gladis’ family and friends, and for the recovery of the other people involved in this tragic crash.

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Service workers hit by teen driver in Orange County

Posted by lapearce on February 14, 2009

Another strike on the already poor report card of teen drivers occurred today in Orange County, according to the Orange County Register. It reports: “Around 8:30 a.m., a 16-year-old boy was driving a Toyota 4X4 at Camino de los Mares at I-5 lost control of the vehicle, hit a center divider and struck two men performing roadside work.”

The men are very lucky that they had only minor injuries. And so is the boy, since no charges have been filed… yet.

The police may want to change their minds if this one post in regards to the crash is correct:

“I saw the accident happen this morning as I was waiting at a light near the freeway and the kid tried to run a yellow/red light and make a quick left-hand turn, where he lost control and nearly ran over the center divider into oncoming traffic. He then overcorrected and ran into an area where about 20 workers were but most of them ran once they heard the loud screeching of his truck. Then a few teen girls quickly got out of the car and ran off. I’m assuming 16 year-olds are not supposed to drive with other teens in the car with them for this reason. He is really lucky the accident didn’t turn out much worse since, from my vantage point, it looked like a lot more than 2 guys got hit. It was a brand new truck that some obviously spoiled kid did not deserve.”

If what this poster says is true, then the teen driver was driving too fast for the conditions and was breaking the conditions of the restricted license by having under age passengers. Both of these show a complete lack of respect and responsibility for the privilege to drive a car. He could have killed someone, and it is very fortunate that he didn’t.

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2008 Traffic Deaths at Record Low

Posted by lapearce on February 14, 2009

The National Safety Council has reported that 2008 was a good year for drivers, and it’s not just because we were driving less due to gas prices. The Council reports that 39,800 deaths in 2008 were related to motor vehicles, down 8% from last year, after adjusted for miles driven.

While the number is decreasing, it is still very high. Car crashes are the leading non-illness cause of death in America. Coming in right after heart disease and stroke for adults, and accounting for the top killer of teens (nearly 40%). Hopefully we will see this number continue to drop as drivers education improves

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NHTSA to force technology to remove “blind spots”

Posted by lapearce on February 14, 2009

The economy is the biggest thing on every one’s mind right now. Up to the top is also the fate of the car companies, and how they will survive when many of them are seeing double-digit profit declines. It is a head-smacking, what are they thinking, time when you learn that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is wasting ours, and the car companies’ money, by fixing yet another problem that doesn’t really exist.

According to Autoblog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is going to start mandating blind spot removal devices on all cars. These devices include: “additional mirrors, cameras or sensors, as well as brake interlock systems that won’t allow cars to shift out of park without the application of the brakes.” I have a question for the NHTSA, why don’t you just teach people how to use their mirrors?

The fact is that there is no such thing of a blind spot unless you are in a large vehicle, in which case there is a blind spot behind the back window. Blind spots are created by the driver, and are easily solved by proper mirror placement. Most people have their mirrors adjusted so that they can see the side of their car. Why? It’s going the same place the front of the car is. This causes a large overlap in view between the side mirrors and back mirrors, and completely eliminates any view ahead of the rear quarter panel.

To remove your blind spot, you don’t need a computer to beep at you when a vehicle is beside you, or another mirror to look at the blind spot, or a camera, all you need to do is push your mirror out a little. Press your head against the glass of the driver’s side window and adjust your mirror so you can barily see the side of it. Then, move your body so that your head is in the middle of the car (in front of the rear view mirror) and adjust the passanger mirror so that you can see a small part of the car. Now, when you look in your mirrors you won’t have any blind spot! It will take a little bit of time to get used to, but it works.

There, I just saved the US Government and the car markers millions of dollars.

This illustration shows how properly adjusted mirrors remove blind spots:

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Summary of Sunday’s Clinic

Posted by lapearce on February 14, 2009

Yasmine nagivages an emergency lane change in H3

We had a great class on Sunday. Judy, our head instructor, was off testing out the brand new BMW 7 series with Creiver BMW, but the rest of the instructors stepped in to teach the class.

We had nine students and the range of teens and cars wouldn’t have been more diverse and interesting: from a Mini Cooper to a Ford F350 super dulie! Classes this diverse are always the best, because they show both the parents and the teens how differently some cars can turn, stop and avoid accidents.

One of our students, Yasmine came with her parents and two cars: Mercedes S class and a Hummer H. Neither of which were the car she would be driving when she got her license, but they brought both cars because they didn’t know which one she should learn on.

Yasmine wanted to learn in the Mercedes because the H3 scared her. I told her parents to use the H3. The car was going to be a lot harder to handle. She would have to work a lot harder to learn in it, and that hard work would pay off in appreciation and skills that would be transfered than if the course was taken in a car that does everything for you.

At the end of the day, Yasmine was glad she learned in the H3. While she no longer was afraid to drive the car, but she also knew that she didn’t want to. She said the best thing about learning how to drive in the H3 was that she really appreciated small cars because of it. She learned that bigger doesn’t mean safer if you can’t avoid an accident.

I know Yasmine will be fine once she gets her license.

Elizabeth struggles to miss cones in her large truck

Elizabeth struggles to avoid cones in her large truck

The nimble MINI goes around the obstical with ease

Blake learns that when you lock up the brakes on a car without ABS that the car no longer turns

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