As part of its celebration of Teen Driver Safety Week, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch announced today that Governor Tom Corbett has proclaimed Oct. 20-26 as Teen Driver Safety Week in Pennsylvania to coincide with the national observance.
PennDOT is using this opportunity to remind parents and guardians that adult supervision is a critical component of keeping teen drivers safe on the roads, recognizing that parents and guardians are an integral part of teen driving success even after they have been licensed.
“Safely operating a vehicle requires complex evaluations, split-second decisions and intricate maneuvers and to help keep kids safe, parents and guardians must thoroughly evaluate a teen driver’s knowledge, skills and abilities behind the wheel,” Schoch said. “Adults set a positive, safe example for young drivers in their family and continuing to monitor young drivers after they receive their license helps keep young drivers safe.”
From 2008 to 2012, there were 103,002 crashes involving at least one 16 to 19-year old driver in Pennsylvania, resulting in 851 fatalities. Of those crashes, 46 percent involved the teen driver driving too fast for conditions, driver inexperience, driver distraction, or improper or careless turning.
The risk of a crash involving any of these factors can be reduced through practice, limiting the number of passengers riding with a teen driver, obeying all rules of the road and using common sense.
In efforts to strengthen graduated driver licensing requirements and enhance training for young drivers, Governor Corbett signed Act 81 into law in 2011. The law increased supervised, behind-the-wheel skill building for permit holders under 18 years old from 50 to 65 hours and added stricter limits on the number of passengers that young drivers can transport for the first six months after they receive their junior license. The law also made it a primary offense for anyone under 18 not properly wearing a seat belt.
As a part of their obligation to help their children become responsible and safe drivers, parents and guardians should:
*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.
PennDOT is proud to announce the availability of an additional, optional tool for parents and guardians to utilize in their education efforts: PennDOT’s new “Teen Driver” plate. The plate features an inverted triangle in red, with the words “Teen Driver” appearing in yellow letters in the triangle. The phrase, “Please Be Courteous,” is featured in blue letters on the sides of the triangle. The letters “T” and “D” appear vertically to the right of the symbol.
The plate is available for purchase and can be ordered by visitingwww.dmv.state.pa.us.
For more information on young driver safety, visit PennDOT’s highway safety website, www.JustDrivePA.com, and select the “Young Driver” link under the Traffic Safety Information Center.