October 16-22 Is National Teen Driver Safety Week, But Our Children Deserve to Have Us Focused On Teen Traffic Safety 52 Weeks Of The Year
It is wonderful that many organizations, including mine, EndDD.org (End Distracted Driving), will be holding events, providing resources and highlighting measures to keep teens safer on the highways this week. Focusing attention on the epidemic of teen crashes, including fatalities, can only help in our battle to keep our teens safe. But given that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, shouldn’t we be working to save teen lives all year long? 2015 saw the largest percentage increase in traffic fatalities in 50 years, reversing what had been a general downward trend in traffic fatalities since 2007. In a recent GHSA report, it was found that crash fatalities for teens increased by 10%, a greater percentage than any other age group. Preliminary estimates for 2016 suggest that this awful trend will continue and that 2015 was not an aberration. Teens are killed in motor vehicle crashes at a rate almost three times that of any other age group. It is undisputed that our cars have gotten safer with more airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock braking systems. Programs targeting seat belt use and impaired driving have also reduced crashes and, together with safety improvements to our cars, are likely explanations for the downward trend in fatalities from 2007-14. So how do we explain this sudden increase in traffic fatalities generally, and specifically for teens?