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Teen Safety Driving Week kicks off

Updated: Monday, October 21 2013, 11:45 AM CDT
Reported by Jesse Knutson (JKnutson@sbgtv.com)

Teenage drivers are in the spotlight this week for ‘Teen Driver Safety Week’, where experts are stressing the importance of avoiding distractions behind the wheel.
 
“Teen driving crashes are the number one killer of teens nationwide,” Felicity Debacco-Erni, Leader of the Pennsylvania Teen Safe Driving Coalition, said.
 
In the last 5 years, there have been more than 100,000 crashes in Pennsylvania involving a teen driver, and in more than 800 of those crashes, there was a death.
 
According to Debacco-Erni, in 2010, Pennsylvania could have filled 6 school buses with the number of teens killed on the roadways. In response to this epidemic, Governor Corbett proclaimed October 20th through the 26th ‘Teen Driver Safety Week.’
 
“It’s just a week of awareness for parents and teens about teen safety behind the wheel,” said Debacco-Erni.
 
Local teens we talked to say they’re aware of the dangers behind the wheel.
 
“There’s a lot of accidents that involve teenagers nowadays,” Trevor Royer, a recent graduate of CD East, said. “It’s mostly because of distracted Driving.”
 
Royer and his friends say since getting their licenses, they’ve heard many stories about friends and acquaintances getting into accidents, and it’s usually because they were distracted.
 
“My friend, he was actually texting while driving, and he ran into a pole,” Michael Varner said.
 
“When you’re a teenager, you don’t think of consequences as much,” Noah Troxell Said.
 
Troxell avoids distractions as much as possible behind the wheel, but he understands why some fellow teens drive distracted. “We’re full of life right now, we’ve got a lot of distractions like our cell phones, our social life.”
 
Their main message to other teens is simple: Don’t text and drive, pay attention to what’s around you, and do your best to keep your attention on the task at hand.
 
“No texting and driving, because that’s basically the number one thing that kills teens for anything,” Shaughn Greene said.
 
Each one of the teens has their own steps they take to make sure they avoid distractions. “I normally put my phone in my glove box,” Michael Varner said.
 
“I make sure that my phone is off and that my seatbelt is on and that everyone else in the car has their seatbelt on as well,” Taira Talley said.
 
Talley got her license on Friday, and she says her parents are to thank for helping her be safe behind the wheel, teaching her throughout her youth how to drive safely. Debacco-Erni says that’s an important part to making sure new drivers are safe on the roads. “Parents really should be talking to teens about speed, they should be talking to them about distractions.”
 
Debacco-Erni says the best way to do that is to continue the hands on education behind the wheel, especially with snow right around the corner. “We should be out there with our teens in parking lots and on highways. Although it may be very scary for parents, the teen needs that experience.”
 
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has provided the following list of tips for how parents can help their teens be safer behind the wheel:
 
Talk to teens about safe driving skills before they turn 16.
Establish a parent/teen driving contract.
Strongly encourage teens to avoid distractions behind the wheel.
Limit the number of passengers teens are allowed to have in their vehicle.
Limit dawn, dusk and nighttime driving until teens gain more experience, and enforce a curfew. Remember, state law prohibits 16 and 17-year-olds with a junior license from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Gradually increase the amount of time and distance teens are allowed to drive.
Enforce the need to obey speed limits and other rules of the road.
Ride with their teens occasionally to monitor driving skills.
Always set a good example.
 
For more information on young driver safety, you can visit PennDOT’s highway safety website, www.JustDrivePA.com, and select the “Young Driver” link under the Traffic Safety Information Center.
Teen Safety Driving Week kicks off


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