I recently attended the Lifesavers Conference in Denver, as a guest of Toyota Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC). Toyota is a major sponsor of Lifesavers, the premier national highway safety summit in the US, dedicated to reducing the tragic toll of deaths and injuries on our nation’s roadways. In full disclosure, Toyota sponsored my travel, meals, and accommodations for me to attend the conference. No compensation was received, and I am under no obligation to blog about Lifesavers. I did learn some valuable information at the conference that I would like to pass along to you. Having never attended a conference on driving safety, I really didn’t know what to expect. But having one young adult and two teen drivers in the family, I was eager to learn more.
The conference consisted of an expo hall and a wide variety of sessions spanning a three day period. I appreciated that Toyota left me to choose the sessions that I wanted to attend, and there were many informative session to choose from. With young drivers in the family, many of the sessions I went to were skewed toward distracted driving and teen drivers – also a session geared toward law enforcement covering some of the designer drugs that are out there, and boy was that eye opening.
I had the great privilege to meet with folks from Toyota’s own driver safety education programs, including the Toyota Teen Driver Program and Buckle Up for Life. Also at the conference were top representatives from Kidsandcars.org, SafetyBeltSafe, and MADD (to name a few).
While there have always been distractions that can take a driver’s attention from the road, the rise in cell phone use and more complex entertainment systems has increased safety concerns.
Here’s are a few things that I learned about teen and distracted driving safety:
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
In 2010, seven teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.
There were 4,161 teen driver deaths in 2011.
Males ages 16 to 19 and drivers with teen passengers are most at risk. If you are considering letting your teenager drive their younger siblings or friends, I urge you to think again.
Kids and teens emulate their parent’s behavior. So remember if you speed, run lights, text or talk on your phone while driving your teen driver most likely will too.
The following really struck a cord with me…
Parenting Styles Matter – The authoritative parent is the most successful parenting style. Parents who are actively involved with their teens – coaching and parenting, have influence and make a difference. Teens of authoritative parents are half as likely to crash, 71% less likely to drive intoxicated, 30% less likely to use a phone when driving, 2 times more likely to buckle up, and 50% less likely to speed.
If you have a teen driver in the house, you might want to check out the Toyota Driving Expectations program. It’s a hands-on driving skill program for teens and their families.