October 17, 2012
Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Departments of Safety (DOS), Health and Human Services (DHHS), and Transportation (DOT) are teaming up this year to raise awareness of safe driving behaviors during National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 14-20, 2012. Now in its sixth year, this federally designated week’s goal is to encourage the communication of the positive benefits of safe driving.
“Keeping our teens safe is paramount,” states Dr. José Montero, Director of DHHS’s Division of Public Health Services. “In 2009, there were 1,648 adolescents who were treated in the State’s emergency departments due to motor vehicle crashes. Eighty teens were hospitalized in that same period. This is a significant issue that all of us must pay attention to.”
Encouraging positive aspects of safe driving includes wearing a seat belt. In the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 10.7% of students answered that they “rarely or never wore a seatbelt when riding in a car driven by someone else.” According to the New Hampshire Highway Safety Agency’s 2011 annual seatbelt survey, adolescent drivers are less likely to buckle up than adult drivers: 57.1% compared with 71.2%. There are efforts in the State to help increase the usage of seatbelts amongst teens.
We’re working with teens in several different programs,” said Howard Hedegard, Highway Safety Specialist at the Injury Prevention Center at Dartmouth. “However, all of the programs encourage teens to be the good driver that they want to be. Positively structured learning experiences have a much greater chance of motivating people to choose safe, smart behaviors. In fact one school that had continuous programming for over a year, teen seat belt use increased from 64% in a student led observational survey to 85%. That’s incredible.”
The public–private collaborative New Hampshire Strategic Highway Safety Plan, “Driving Toward Zero Deaths” supports additional ways teens can be the driver that they want to be. The plan supports Graduated Drivers Licensing and increased community and parental involvement encouraging safe teen driving practices.
" “In New Hampshire our graduated driver licensing system does have a youth operator license for drivers between the ages of 16 and 20,” said Christopher Clement, Commissioner of DOT. “This license restricts nighttime driving (between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m.) for those under age 18 and limits the number of passengers a teen driver may have in his or her vehicle for the first six months of licensure. Taking care to follow these rules will help the teen driver keep himself or herself safe.”
“It’s interesting to note that teens ages 16 through 20 were involved in 64% of the crashes during the last five-year period,” said John Barthelmes, Commissioner of DOS, “but they only make up about 6% of the total licensed drivers. This discrepancy makes this an issue of the utmost importance and one that we focus on all the time. However, this week, we’re paying it special attention.” According to the Department of Safety’s crash statistics, the majority of fatal crashes involving teens were due to speed.
For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at www.nhtsa.gov/Teen-Drivers or www.teendriversource.org/more_pages/page/get_behind_national_teen_driver_safety_week_ntdsw_/teen for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Research Institute. For information on New Hampshire’s driving license requirements, visit www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/driver-licensing/index.htm. New Hampshire’s Driving Towards Zero website can also be accessed at www.nhdtz.com.