We all share a responsibility to help keep our youngest and most inexperienced drivers safe when they get behind the wheel. That's as true here in the United States as it is around the world.
And, as we enter the summer driving months, when more and more teen drivers take to the road, Global Youth Traffic Safety Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of good driving habits everywhere.
Fortunately, DOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have a terrific partner to help us do that: the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). Today, NOYS hosted a number of safety leaders and youth advocates at a safety rally in Washington, DC, to help put an end to motor vehicle crashes –the leading cause of death for teens.
It was quite a gathering, including Office of Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske; Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin; National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman; Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden; NHTSA Administrator David Strickland; South Africa Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool; former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta; and Kweku Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela. That's a pretty loud affirmation of traffic safety's importance.
But as impressive as the support of these leaders is, it pales in comparison to the energy that the young safety advocates of NOYS bring.
And they are applying their skills, talents, and dedication to encourage their peers to make safer choices behind the wheel.
One of those safe choices is for young drivers to put their electronic devices away. Young drivers are significantly overrepresented in fatal distraction-related crashes, yet young drivers persist in thinking they can drive safely while texting or talking on a cell phone.
We've been tackling the issue of distracted driving at DOT for four years now, and I'm proud of how much we've accomplished. But I am even more proud of the great effort that the students of NOYS have put into this fight. These are teens trying their best to help other teens, and they have been truly inspiring.
I said above that NOYS has been a terrific safety partner, and I meant it. I cannot thank Executive Director Sandy Spavone and all of the fierce young safety advocates of NOYS enough for their commitment.
And I know that long after Global Youth Traffic Safety Month ends, they'll keep fighting for safety. And I hope you'll join them.