This week two very important safety events coincide, and here at DOT we welcome the opportunity to celebrate them both: "National Teen Driver Safety Week" and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's "Operation Safe Driver Mobilization Week."
Congress established National Teen Driver Safety Week in 2007. Today, it is recognized by DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety, the Children's Hospital Of Philadelphia, and many other safety advocates across the country.
To mark National Teen Driver Safety Week, NHTSA is focusing its attention on parents and caregivers, urging them to set and enforce safe driving ground rules with teens. Through a parent-teen driving contract, discussions about alcohol, and regular supervised driving sessions, you can help mold your teens into well-prepared drivers.
Now, as a parent of four I know teenagers don't always listen to what we say, but studies indicate that they are always watching what we do--and how adults behave behind the wheel is an important factor in how young people learn to drive. So NHTSA is also urging parents and caregivers to practice what they preach. That means always buckling up, putting electronic devices away, and not driving while impaired.
The reality is that drivers aged 16-17 are involved in more crashes per mile than any other age bracket. I'm hoping that--together--we can change that. As NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “Immaturity, inexperience, and a penchant for risk-taking are the major reasons for high crash and fatality rates among teen drivers. Parents who reinforce responsible driving habits are vital in creating safe drivers."
Through its Teens & Trucks: Share the Road campaign, CVSA is working to educate young drivers about safe driving practices around commercial vehicles. And during "Operation Safe Driver" week, CVSA's law enforcement partners across North America are ready to stop, ticket and educate any aggressive and distracted drivers, regardless of their age. CVSA's goal is to educate all motorists on the risks involved with aggressive and distracted driving near large trucks and buses and to stigmatize aggressive driving behavior.
But "Operation Safe Driver" also aims to help commercial vehicle drivers operate more safely. So this week aggressive and fatigued truck and bus drivers will also be stopped and ticketed more vigilantly. And you'll find safety inspectors from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) working alongside state and local law enforcement partners to step up roadside inspections, particularly on higher risk carriers.
As FMCSA Deputy Administrator Bill Bronrott said, "With our partners we have contributed to a 30 percent decrease in truck and bus related fatalities between 2005 and 2010, and preliminary reports show another 4.7 percent drop in 2011. But our mission is far from complete."
And he's absolutely right. Whether we're talking about teen driver safety or commercial vehicle safety, we can do better and we must do better. But to make that happen--this week and every week--we need your help.