Today’s youth are busier and more engaged than ever. Unfortunately, this also means they have more things to district them, especially while driving.
Iowa’s young drivers travel many miles over local, state, interstate and rural roads. Many of these miles are before and after school as well as late at night after work or sporting events – in all kinds of weather.
Oct. 14 through Oct. 21, was dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to unnecessary teen deaths on the road. National Teen Driver Safety Week was established by Congress in 2007 and is held annually on the third week each October. It’s goal is to focus the country’s attention on this serious issue, according to a press release from Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena. In Iowa, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau is asking law enforcement, parents, educators, and other influences to be vigilant in the awareness, experience and education of teen drivers.
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths, as research shows teen drivers are at a greater risk of injury and death than all other age groups. In Iowa, drivers ages 14 through 19 make up 7.4 percent of all Iowa licensed drivers. According to a report published in 2011 by the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center, Iowa ranked 49th out of 50 states with regards to teen driving safety statistics and conditions.
The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office remains focused on reducing distractions, specifically texting while driving, as well as an emerging topic of rural road safety. Factors such as safety belts, speed, time of day, number of passengers, and the use of electronic devices continue to be primary causes of crashes involving teens.
Parents, teachers, mentors and adult influences are encouraged to keep our teen drivers safe by setting a positive example while driving. Drive responsibly by buckling up, driving the speed limit, not drinking and driving and not driving distracted.
A fact sheet is available at www.siouxcountysheriff.com.
As of Oct., 2011:
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group.
Nearly 11 teens are in fatal car crashes everyday on U.S. roads.
During 2008, a total of 5,800 drivers ages 16-20 were involved in fatal crashes nationwide; crashes which took the lives of 6,400 individuals.
In 2010, 53 young people, age 20 or younger, were killed in Iowa fatal crashes.
For fatally injured young drivers, alcohol becomes an increasingly significant factor. In 2008, 38 percent of all 20-year-old drivers in fatal crashes nationwide were legally drunk as opposed to 10 percent of all 16-year-olds.
As a group, teen and young adult drivers are at an elevated risk for fatalities and serious injuries in traffic crashes. The following behavioral factors contribute to the risk: distracted driving, texting while driving, alcohol, speeding, no safety belts and inexperience.
Drivers ages 15-20 make up about 9 percent of all Iowa licensed drivers.
The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
In 2008, 18-year-olds had 15 fatalities and 65 serious injuries, more than any other single age.
From 2000 through 2009 period, over 4,600 16-through-24 year olds were seriously injured in Iowa traffic crashes.
Nearly 50,000 teens and young adults were injured in Iowa crashes from 2000 through 2008 with more than 4,500 injuries in 2008 alone.
Drivers ages 16 through 24 typically represent over 30 percent of all Iowa drinking-impaired drivers in fatal and serious injury crashes.
For more information contact Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau Iowa Department of Public Safety at 1-515-725-6123 or www.iowagtsb.org.