May brings us the fun of Cinco de Mayo, Star Wars Day (May the Forth Be With You!), and Memorial Day. But May also is Global Youth Traffic Safety Month (GYTSM).
This annual campaign, created by the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS), encourages youth organizations to take part in projects in their communities that raise awareness about the importance of traffic safety. Although NOYS provides guidance on the types of projects to pursue, it puts local young adults in the leadership role and lets them come up with the best ways to address teen driver safety in their areas.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), NOYS, and other organizations, traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for Americans between the ages of 16 and 19. Every year, around 2,500 of these teenagers die in this way.
This startling number means that, on average, around six teens die each day in a traffic accident. According to the CDC, male teens, teens with teen passengers, and newly licensed teens are at an especially high risk of getting into a traffic accident.
It is important to teach young drivers about traffic safety so they are aware of the risk they take and the responsibility they have every time they get behind the wheel. The main causes of accident-related deaths for this group are:
- Distracted driving
- Not wearing seatbelts
- Driving under the influence
- Falling asleep
- Other teen passengers
- Driving at night
The goal of GYTSM is to raise awareness about the potential danger of driving and make sure teenagers are being safe and responsible behind the wheel. With summer considered the deadliest season for young drivers, May is the perfect month to kick off this campaign. With enough information and awareness, we can prevent many, if not most, of these deaths due to motor vehicle crashes.
Here are some tips for parents to promote traffic safety with their teen drivers:
- Have supervised driving practice
- Stress the importance of assessing hazards on the road
- Make sure your teen isn’t driving late at night
- Make sure your he or she wears seatbelts on every car ride, whether they’re driving or not
- Make your teen puts his or her phone in the car’s glove box
- Don’t let them drive with other teen passengers without an adult present
- Don’t ever drink and drive. Also, teach your kids the severity of the consequences of drinking and driving
Graduated Driver Licensing Programs
Most states have some form of a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program. These programs divide driver’s licenses into tiers or phases, with different privileges. They usually start with a learner's permit, proceed to an intermediate license, and then a full license. Drivers need to rack up a designated number of hours to proceed from one license type to the next.
There are specific rules and limits on drivers depending on the license type as well. Learner’s permits usually limit the number of teens in a car and forbid teens from driving in the middle of the night, for example.
Teen drivers usually make your auto rates higher, but if your teen has finished a GDL program, you may be overpaying. If you would like more information about how GDL programs work, check out our article about graduated driver's licenses.
It is up to the parents and the community to teach teen drivers about traffic safety. NOYS and NHTSA have given us the perfect platform and opportunity to stress the importance of traffic safety to teen drivers.
Speaking of which, another NOYS project related to GYTSM is Seat Belts Save. It raises awareness of the importance of wearing seat belts. NOYS also is responsible for Reality Check, which focuses on stopping teen drinking and driving. No matter what aspect of youth driver safety you or your community want to focus on, you can get involved in GYTSM and make your teen driver and your community safer.