A $14,000 grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL) will encourage teenagers to drive safely. A portion of the grant funds will be used to host a driver-training event for college students in Alfred.
“We are deeply appreciative for this grant and the confidence it shows in New York’s efforts to keep teen drivers, their passengers, and those who share our roads with them safe,” said Terri Egan, executive deputy commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Acting Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). “Good driving habits start while you are young, and people like parents, coaches, and other adults that children know and respect are role models for how to behave when you are driving.”
“By working with our students, this will give us an opportunity to emphasize the importance of safe driving, correct some bad habits through hands-on training, and further prove to college students that our officers are here to serve and protect them,” said Matt Heller, University Police Chief at Alfred State.
University Police at Alfred State, Alfred Village Police, and the Public Safety Office at Alfred University will host the hands-on driver safety class in October. Alfred was chosen because Allegany County has one of the highest rates for fatalities and injuries involving people not wearing seat belts. The largest proportion of those killed or injured were young drivers ages 16 to 20. Those teens comprised 23 percent of all Allegany County accidents with injury, while statewide teens comprise only 11 percent.
The grant will also enable GTSC to expand its Coaches Care program for high school athletic coaches. Created in 2016, the program grew out of an October 2015 report by GHSA titled “Under Their Influence: The New Teen Safe Driving Champions.” Teens were surveyed as part of the research, and 68 percent identified coaches as safe driving influences in their lives.
Coaches Care uses role models with whom students regularly interact to help them learn good driving habits. GTSC provides coaches with sample talking points to help them impart valuable lessons to their students. The campaign also includes a series of school sports posters featuring teens and traffic safety messages.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Five to Drive” rules for teens are:
- No Impaired Driving.
- Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back. Lead by example.
- Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.
- Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.
- No More Than One Passenger at Any Time.
The grant announcement comes in the wake of new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research that showed newly licensed teen drivers were three times as likely as adults to be involved in fatal crashes. According to NHTSA, 1,866 teen drivers were killed in 2015 – 163 more than in 2014. Early estimates for 2016 reveal that traffic deaths continued their surge upward.
In New York, the trend in recent years had been a decline in fatal and other crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 20, but preliminary data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) for 2016 shows those numbers rose slightly. A total of 99 young drivers were killed and 15,569 were injured in New York State last year, up from 97 killed and 14,633 injured in 2015. In 2010, there were 139 young drivers killed and 20,295 injured.
For more information on traffic safety for younger drivers, visit www.safeny.ny.gov.