PDT Staff Writer
FRANKFORT, Ky. — In recognition of National Teen Driver Safety Week of Oct. 20-26, The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety is seeking to heighten awareness of distracted driving amongst the teenage population.
The KOHS is reporting that high school students throughout the nation, inspired by the loss of classmates and friends, have formed teen-led organizations and promoted educational opportunities that are shaping driving attitudes and behaviors in regard to distracted driving.
KOHS Executive Director Bill Bell said electronic devices are jeopardizing the future of the teen population.
“All too often, the devices are winning and our kids are losing—with tragic results,” Bell said. “Young people are America’s future, but it’s increasingly clear their future is in jeopardy due to the popularity of electronic devices constantly vying for their attention on our highways.”
The KOHS coordinates highway safety events in schools and communities throughout the year.
Accordingt to the KOHS, the Distracted Driving (D2) Simulator is the most popular educational tool for high school students.
The simulator exposes teens to the real-life hazards of distracted driving without actually putting their lives at risk. Drivers can receive and send phone calls and text messages while attempting to obey the rules of the road.
More than 25 D2 programs have been conducted in high schools to date.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 344 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted teen driver in 2011.
This age group also had the largest proportion of drivers who were reported distracted at the time of a crash – 11 percent.
Numbers from 2011 also show 495 non-occupants, such as pedestrians, were killed in distraction-affected crashes.
In addition, research showed that only a third of young drivers would speak up and say something to a driver who was talking on a handheld cellphone.
But not all the news about distracted driving is negative. Over the past five years, the number of people injured in distraction-affected crashes has fallen 14 percent. States are taking great measures to reduce fatality and incident rates among teen drivers. Youth driving programs such as Graduated Driver Licensing have helped save young lives.
In addition, NHTSA research shows that anti-texting laws and stronger law enforcement have helped significantly.
Currently, 41 states including Kentucky have passed legislation outlawing texting while driving.
Kentucky’s texting law bans texting for all drivers while the vehicle is in motion. For drivers younger than 18, use of all personal communication devices such as cellphones and pagers is prohibited while the vehicle is in motion.
For more information on teen driving safety, please visit www.nhtsa.gov; www.distraction.gov; or http://highwaysafety.ky.gov.
Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Portia on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.