Distracted driving is disproportionately affecting teens, the most inexperienced of drivers. A great number of legislative, enforcement and educational efforts have been undertaken to combat teen distracted driving. The GHSA’s newest report, released on August 26th, “Distracted & Dangerous – Helping States Keep Teens Focused on the Road,” provides the most comprehensive summary of those efforts to date and is an invaluable resource for traffic safety professionals, safety advocates, law enforcement, legislators, educators and communities. This report highlights teen distracted driving research, the extent of the teen distracted driving problem and summarizes applicable legislative and enforcement efforts. More importantly from my perspective, it describes a number of innovative programs from across the country that are showing promise in reducing distracted driving crashes.
The report was authored by Pam Fischer, principal of Pam Fisher Consulting, leader of the NJ Teen Safe Driving Coalition and one of the leading traffic safety professionals in the country. It was produced under the direction of Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of the GHSA and was funded by State Farm Insurance Company. Those of us who are committed to reducing teen distracted driving crashes owe our thanks to the GHSA for this outstanding resource.
Programs highlighted in the report were identified by the states as “exemplary” or “promising” and vetted before being included. The report describes approximately a dozen programs organized by region, provides program specifics, including design, theme, goals, geographic area, number of teens participating and whether the program has been evaluated for effectiveness.
Some of the programs are science-based, utilize specifically tailored videos, driving simulators, contests, interactive exercises and innovative approaches to connect with teens. The descriptions are very complete and provide readers with the ability to understand the programs, determine availability and cost and assist in finding a program to meet specific needs. Some of the most innovative programs were developed by teens for teens.
As Pam Fischer states in the report, Want to eradicate distracted driving from the nation’s roadways? Put teens in charge. The New England/Massachusetts Distracted Driving Summit (GHSA report, p. 43) organized by the Salit triplets from Massachusetts, involved more than 60 high schools from New England and works to have attendees return to their respective schools and engage in peer-to-peer advocacy. EndDD was proud to have Matthew Salit intern with us this summer.
Generation tXt (GentXt) was developed by high school students in Oklahoma and engages in a number of community awareness events, teaching students how to establish campaigns in their schools and advocate for legislative change (GHSA report, p. 44). Youth of Virginia Speak Out (YOVASO) is active across Virginia and works to develop strategies to target young drivers, implementing peer-to-peer initiatives and contests with opportunities to win prizes for their respective schools (GHSA report, p.46).
With the assistance of volunteer speakers, the EndDD.org program has reached over 450,000 teens in 41 states and Canada. We at EndDD.org are honored to be included in the GHSA report (click here to link to the GHSA description of the EndDD.org program) and are encouraged by the number of other programs being used across the country to address teen distracted driving.
We will be releasing our updated EndDD.org power point presentation shortly and have added elements in response to scientific scrutiny in order to increase its effectiveness. We remain optimistic that we can change the culture of driving in this country so that safe non-distracted driving by teens will one day be the norm.
Full GHSA Report (55 page PDF)