Save Our Teen Drivers

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

Archive for the ‘program’ Category

Senator aims to improve teen driver education

Posted by lapearce on July 23, 2009

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has set his eye on drivers education reform when many people in Congress are engrossed on “reforming” other things. Sen. Schumer has proposed a bill that would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a curriculum that includes in-class and in-car lessons, and create a grant program to fund local classrooms that use the program.

The program is meant to be supplemental to existing programs, now would not be required for a license. Schumer says he hopes that parents, schools and churches will encourage involvement. I wonder how successful that would be.

Also, it is not clear how this program would fit in with another act trying to solve the teen driving problem called STANDUP, which would require all states to have the same teen driving laws. Schumer is not an author of that act so I am unsure of what his stance is on it since it has yet to be debated or voted on. A search of his Web site came up with no mention of STANDUP or his opinion on it.

The cost of the program is an estimated $25 million a year, a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $36 billion teen car crashes cost the society in 2006. But I want to make sure the money is spent right: in creating a truely good curriculum that fully addresses the flaws in the current system and fixes them. It needs to have a defensive driving component and it needs to involve parents. Otherwise, it’s just throwing money away (government’s favorite past time).


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Free two day driving class in Pasco County Florida

Posted by lapearce on June 17, 2009

Florida is statistically not a good state to get your license in. Crash rates and fatality rates are high in the state comparatively, and if you are in the Tampa, St. Petersberg, Clearwater metropolitan area, like Trinity Florida is (or at least pretty close to it), you are in the most dangerous metro in the country for new drivers with over 41 fatal crashes for every 100,000 teens.

Pasco County Sheriff deputies know that there county is a dangerous one for new drivers. The county line, which ends north of Tampa, is the second most deadly county in Florida for new drivers. The Sheriff Department decided three years ago to try and turn those statistics around.

The two day program they offer, Teen Driver Challenge, is free to participants. The course features one day of in-class learning and a second day of in-car learning. The course is taught by sheriff deputies and they teach many of the things police officers teach to be safe on the road. Some area high schools require the first day of class to receive a parking permit on campus, but the second day is optional.

Katie Dabelstein and Chris Loguidice, students from Mitchell High School, came back the second day even though it wasn’t required. Both wanted to improve their driving skills and felt the program would do that. “It sounded pretty cool when they said it’s what the cops had to do,” Dabelstein said.

The program uses the teens own car, and teaches them handling, stopping, and avoidence skills that can mean the difference of life and death on the road. The program also teaches backing up, a cruital skill in a high school parking lot. The next program will be at River Ridge High School July 20-21. Register by calling Mary Hopkins at 813-929-1376.

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Maryland can’t give away free cameras to monitor teen drivers

Posted by lapearce on June 17, 2009

It sounds like many parents’ dream come true: free in-car cameras for teen drivers that turn on and record when ever something sudden happens in the car: hard braking, avoidance, acceleration or a crash. The cameras, free from DriveCam, are designed to not just allow parents to monitor how their teens are driving, but to help teach their teens lessons that they haven’t yet learned. Along with the clips, tips are provided to help prevent the incidents from happening again. Despite the fact that the program is free (and even comes with a gas card for participating) the program  is struggling to give away all 300 cameras.

“We’re not exactly sure why. Of course the kids aren’t gung-ho about it — they think it’s a camera to spy on them – but we’re not sure why the parents aren’t buying in.” Said Christina Sinz, whose Washington Metro Region Highway Safety Office has only given out two cameras. Sinz has spoken to PTAs and distributed fliers with little success at finding more participants in the program.

Those who use the DriveCam cameras are asked to participate in a year-long study, paid for by a grant from the Maryland State Highway Administration. Even though all cameras have not been claimed, the program has already logged 11,000 to 12,000 events.

Debbie Jennings of the Calvert County Community Traffic Safety is having more luck than Sinz at giving away the cameras, and has 100 participants in Calvert County. “Most [parents] tend to be somewhat surprised by what they see going on in their teens’ cars… I’m also hearing from parents that this was exactly what they needed, that even if nothing is happening in the car, they have peace of mind.”

Jennings said that once teens learned that the videos weren’t going to be reviewed by the police that they warm up to the program, and many of them see the benefits. “The big picture is it’s meant to benefit more people than me … Hopefully, I can learn from [my father’s] mistakes and hopefully with this other people can learn from my mistakes.” said Mateo Williamson who is in competition with his father to see who can trigger the camera less on their shared car.

Parents in the program have been shocked to discover their teens not wearing their seatbelts, or driving with more people than they are supposed to. One participant said he would probably slow down becacuse the camera is in the car. That one move in the hopes to not triggering the camera and alerting his parents to his behavior will reduce the chances that he’s involved in a crash. Even though the program can be an eye opener for parents, and help teach teens safe driving practices, parents are still unwilling to participate. Why? Are they so worried about the repricutions of “spying” on their child that they’d rather increase their chances of a car crash?

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Montana hopes class will reduce teen crash deaths

Posted by lapearce on June 15, 2009

Allstates ranking of deadliest states for new drivers (the darker the color the more dangerous the state)

Allstate's ranking of deadliest states for new drivers (the darker the color the more dangerous the state)

In Allstate’s recent study, Montana scored as one of the most dangerous places for new drivers (43rd place). While nationally, teens make up for 10 percent of drivers and 12 percent of crashes, according to Tooper Scott Waddell of the Montana Highway Patrol, in Montana, teens account for 14 percent of drivers and 28 percent of crashes that are fatal or include serious injury. Allstate ranked Montana lowest both in GDL requirements and seatbelt use among teen drivers.

The Montana Highway Patrol is hoping that its program Alive at 25 will help change these numbers in favor of new drivers. The four hour class is free and includes discussion and videos to help teens understand the risks on the road and give them solutions for handling the dangers of driving.

Montana still needs work if they hope to significantly reduce their teen driving crashes: no permits before 15 1/2, no cellphone use, no teen drivers, and required education for all new drivers, not just those under the age of 15. The MHP has the right idea to start the process, but legislatures need to step in to finish it.

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Delaware ups commitment to teen drivers

Posted by lapearce on June 8, 2009

“In 2008, teen drivers in Delaware made up 5% of all licensed drivers, but were involved in 10% of all vehicle crashes,” said Jennifer Cohan, Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles today during the unveiling of a number of new teen driving programs aimed at reducing crashes and deaths among new drivers.

At the press conference today Lt. Governor Matt Denn and representatives from the Teen Driving Task Force,  a collection of agencies that educate teen drivers, including announced the programs that aim to educate teens and parents more about the dangers of driving.

These programs include the newly launched, which has information about laws, tips and stories (well, one story so far) from teen drivers about safety. Delaware is also introducing a class for teens and parents about graduated drivers license laws that hopes to increase knowledge, and parental involvement in teen driving. Parental involvement has shown to significantly decrease crashes, the involvement of parents in this plan is paramont, in my opinion, to its success.

Delaware will also hand out reflective stickers identifying new drivers at DMV locations. They are not mandated like they are in New Jersey.

These new initiatives were created through a joint effort by: Division of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Education, the Office of Highway Safety, Delaware State Police, AAA Mid-Atlantic, and SmartDrive. The Teen Driving Task Force was founded last year to come up with solutions to the teen driving problem with the goals of educating teen drivers and their parents about the safe driving skills, training, and the consequences if ignored.

I would have liked to see the Task Force take on the driving skills and training aspects more, but any improvement is good improvement.

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The call that can cost a life

Posted by lapearce on June 5, 2009

If given the option between answering a ringing phone or living, most of us would chose the latter. More and more commonly, however, people are choosing to use cell phones while the drive, and sometimes that means paying for their decision with their life.

On Wednesday a 17-year-old boy was killed while trying to reach his ringing cell phone in his pocket. He became distracted from the road causing him to veer into the medium. When he tried to pull the SUV back on the road he lost control and rolled the vehicle.  Both the driver and his 16-year-old passenger were taken to the hospital for injuries following the crash. The driver passed away yesterday, his passenger has since been released from the hospital.

“It only takes a fraction of a second of unfocused driving to cause a collision that may result in death or serious injury. Focus on driving.” said Traffic Sgt. Tom O’Brien in regard to the crash that took the young man’s life.

Drivers learn this lesson the hard way every day. Some are fortunate enough to learn this before they are put in a life or death situation.  At Siegel High School in Tennessee, for example, an obstacle course was recently set up for teen drivers to navigate while distracted to show what a difference a distraction could make. “I hit most of my cones while I was trying to talk on my cellphone,” said Seth Morgan, a participate in the program.

Another quite simply said, “Stay off the cell phone while you’re driving… Ignore distractions.”

You are four times more likely to get into a car crash while taking on the phone, and the act reduces reaction time to the level of a driver in their 70s. I feel that most people understand that talking and driving are dangerous, but about 70 percent of us admit to doing this. What is scarier is that 20 percent of teens admit to texting while driving, which is far more distracting.

Maybe it’s a mindset that it won’t happen to us. Maybe we feel like we are better than the other drivers out there.  I feel that courses where you can compare how you drive without a phone and with a phone are a great way of sobering us to the hard truth: talking and driving or texting while driving kills.

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Teen program in Florida gets funding

Posted by lapearce on June 4, 2009

Not an acutual Levy County Golf Cart

Not an actual Levy County golf cart

This is great to hear about in our current economic state. Living in California, I’m watching everything from State parks to State colleges getting huge cuts in funding, or even closed. I can’t see California doing what Florida’s Levy County is doing right now. Good economy or bad economy, teens need better driver’s training. I applaud the Levy County Sheriff’s Office for stepping up to the plate and offering it.

The Sheriffs of Levy County Florida are offering a no cost Teen Driving Improvement Program to all Levy County students who have, or are about to have, a driver’s license or permit. The program will educate teens on the dangers of aggressive, impared, and distracted driving, and reinforce the benefits of seatbelt use.

Combined, these four issues cause a bulk of teen driving deaths.

The course will consist of classroom instruction with videos and powerpoints, as well as hands on time where the students will drive golf carts through a course where they can “learn first hand the dangers of their choices they make while driving.” I assume this statement means that they will be giving teens distractions and putting them in situations where they will need to react. This is the best way to prove to kids why they need to pay attention. More places need to do this!

A parent waiver is needed due to the graphic nature of some of the images in the presentation.

For more information please contact Lt. Sean Mullins or Sgt. Max Long at 352-486-5111 ext 278.

The schedule of classes are as followed:

Chiefland High School, June 10, 11, 12; July 1, 9, 22, 29, 30; Aug. 12.

Bronson High School, June 23, 24; July 2, 20, 23; Aug. 3, 4, 13.

Cedar Key School: July 6, Aug. 5.

Williston High School, June 8, 9, 15, 30; July 8, 21, 27, 28; Aug. .10, 11.

Yankeetown School, June 29, July 7, Aug. 6.

All classes begin at 9 a.m.

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Bridgestone and Toyota both announce teen driving programs

Posted by lapearce on June 3, 2009

From Nina Russian at Carspondent:

Bridgestone and Toyota Support Teen Safety

In honor of National Safety Month, Bridgestone and Toyota have announced programs targeted towards teen drivers. Teenage drivers are involved in fatal traffic accidents at over twice the rate of the general population. Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death among teens age 16 to 20.

Bridgestone is currently accepting entries for the third annual Safety Scholars video contest. Students create short videos about automotive safety or environmentalism. Three winners receive a $5000 college scholarship, and will have their videos aired as public service announcements on television stations nationwide.

Videos must be 25 or 55 seconds in length. Bridgestone is accepting the first 300 entries by June 17 at A panel of judges will evaluate entries by how well they compel viewers to be more safety or eco-conscious when using their videos. The ten finalists will be posted on, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook on June 25. Bridgestone will announce the grand prize winners on July 23.

Toyota driving skills program helps teens in California learn about accident avoidance

Toyota’s Driving Expectations program consists of interactive and hands-on instruction, to help teens become safer drivers. The program is free to Los Angeles area residents. Toyota has partnered with the National Safety Council since the program’s debut in 2004. Since then, over 12,000 teens in 18 cities have benefited from the program.

Four-hour programs will be held over two weekends: July 11-12, and August 8-9. To learn more about the program and register, visit the Toyota Driving Expectations web site.

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Most deadly time for new drivers is here

Posted by lapearce on May 29, 2009

Jonathan Schulte and Gillian Sabet

Prom, graduation, late summer nights… put all those things together and you get a deadly combination for teen drivers. Each year there is an increase in crashes among teen drivers during this time.  I can remember deadly crashes happening in the area every year, each one just as tragic as the last. Young lives cut tragically short while celebrating the end of another school year, the passage of another milestone, or just a Tuesday night with no school on Wednesday.

The crash that I remember the most, the crash that many people in Orange County can’t forget, happened four years ago this past Tuesday on May 26, 2005.

It was prom night at Servite High School.  Jonathan Schulte and Gillian (Jill) Sabet were passangers of their friend’s SUV as their rode to the dance.  On the way the driver became distracted and the car started to drift. She over corrected causing the vehicle to roll killing both Jonathan and Gillian.

What distracted the driver? She was looking for a piece of gum.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jill’s parents at a recent AAA Teen Driving Safety Fair. They, like so many other parents, were moved to act after the death of their daughter, forming Journey Safe, which teaches teens about the danger of distractions. Their site has a beautiful memorial to both Jill and Jonathan, and says so elequently what should have happened to Jill and Jonathan instead of the fate they were met with:

Jill and Jonathan should have lived long and happy lives. They should have experienced the joy of their senior year in high school, graduation and college. They should have traveled around the world with their friends the way they wanted to. Whether to each other or to someone else, they should have married one day; they should have had children to love as they were loved so deeply by their own parents.

There are 6,000 stories that happen every year that are similar to Jonathan’s and Jill’s. For those that have been lost, their stories need to be remembered, and their legacies need to live on. For those still with us, there are steps that can be taken to help ensure that they make it to see another school year.

Three ways to protect your teen driver this summer:

  1. If you have a teen driver, enroll them in a supplemental car control clinic. Getting them behind the wheel teaching them safe driving practices is the best way to ensure their safety. These classes can cost a few hundred dollars, however, the cost is usually less than the insurance deductible if your child is in a crash. Here is a list of some upcoming classes I have found.
  2. Talk to your child about the dangers on the road. Believe it or not, they will listen to you. A survey of teens by NHTSA found that when it comes to driving, teens listen to their parents more than any other authority. So sit them down and talk to them about driving safely. I have links to AAA and NHTSA on the side that have good information on what to talk about.
  3. Set up a parent-teen driving contract. Teens with parents who set restrictions are 7x less likely to be involved in a crash. Don’t be afraid to set restrictions. Remind your child that driving is a privilege, not a right, and that they can lose that privilege if they do not respect it. The AAA Parent-Teen Driving Contract is very good.

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Allstate Foundation announces winners of Safe Teen Driving Contest

Posted by lapearce on May 28, 2009

It went widely unknown in this nation, but May was national Youth Traffic Safety Month. In honor of this, The Allstate Foundation and National Organization for Youth Safety held a contest called 2009 Act out Loud: Raising Voice for Safe Teen Driving. The contest encouraged teens to conduct safe driving projects during May. 20 teams took part in the competition nation-wide.

After 80,000 votes were cast, the top three high schools rose to the top:

3rd place Coral Springs Charter, Coral Springs, FL prize: $3,000

2nd place Massapequa High School, Massapequa, NY $5,000

1st place Anoka High School, Anoka, MN $10,000

Aknoka HS Students in Presentation for Campaign

The team from Anoka won with their project “Get the 411 on Teen Driving! Stay Connected! Save Teen lives!” Which used video, as well as information about Minnesota’s driving laws to help educate teens about safe driving.

Anoka High School plans on using their prise money to fund school and community groups that educate teens about traffic safety. Second place Massapequa high School plans to buy a drunk driving simulator to use in driver’s training (great idea kids!)

Congratulations to the winners and all of the schools who took part. You kids are making a difference!

Oh, and in other news, Allstate is hiring a corporate relations manager for their teen driving foundation. I wish I was qualified (and that the job was in Calif.) Job details

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