National Teen Driver Safety Week encourages safe decisions behind the wheelTraffic crashes kill more teenagers in Wisconsin and the rest of the nation than any other cause of death.
Traffic crashes kill more teenagers in Wisconsin and the rest of the nation than any other cause of death. Last year, 48 teenagers were killed and more than 5,300 were injured in traffic crashes in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT).
To help prevent deaths and injuries among teenage motorists by encouraging better decision making and safety conscious behavior, Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed the week of October 20 to 26 as Teen Driver Safety Week in Wisconsin.
The reasons why teens continue to be killed and injured in traffic crashes at an alarming rate are no mystery, according to David Pabst, director of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation Safety.
"Teens are more likely to crash because typically they are inexperienced behind the wheel," says Pabst. "They also tend to speed, drive aggressively and not buckle up. In addition, teens are prone to distracted driving. State law prohibits drivers with an instruction permit or probationary license, which includes many teenagers, from using a cell phone while driving except to report an emergency. Another state law prohibits texting while driving for all motorists. Despite these laws, too many teens still talk or text on mobile devices when all their attention should be focused on driving."
Traffic safety officials stress that the risk of a crash increases significantly when teen drivers have teen passengers in their vehicle.
"Inexperienced teen drivers can be easily distracted by their teen passengers when they make a lot of noise, move around unexpectedly, or urge the driver to speed or drive recklessly," Pabst says. "To help prevent these dangerous situations, Wisconsin has a graduated driver license requirement for new drivers under age 18 that helps them gain valuable experience behind the wheel while limiting the number of teen passengers in their vehicles."
Parents also have an important role in helping their teen drivers make safe decisions behind the wheel. WisDOT offers a parent and teen driving contract that helps establish rules and consequences for a teen’s driving behavior. The contract is available on the WisDOT web at www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/teens/. Moreover, parents must set a good example by obeying speed limits, buckling up, and eliminating distractions.