As the school year winds down, young people across America are looking forward to the summer. But as teens prepare for proms, graduations, vacations, and road trips, it's important to keep safety in mind.
The sad fact is, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. And new analysis from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reveals that the deadliest days of the year for teens aged 15 to 19 are in the summer months of May, June, July, and August. During these four months, nearly twice as many teens died on the roads each day when compared to the rest of the year.
These are sobering statistics. And they serve as a critical reminder to young people: safe driving doesn't take the summer off.
That's why National Youth Traffic Safety Month is so important. Each May, our friends at the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) hold events, contests, and promotions to raise awareness about the risks and dangers teens face on the road. And it's an opportunity to highlight the efforts of youth and organizations nationwide that are helping to save lives and prevent teen traffic crashes.
Over 220 high school teams are currently participating in the NOYS Act Out Loud contest, which challenges teens to take on safe driving projects in their communities. This year's campaign focuses on distracted driving, and teams are holding school assemblies, creating PSAs and music videos, and collecting X the TXT pledges to spread the word about the dangers of texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. The winning team, which will be voted on by the public at www.actoutloud.org, will ultimately receive $10,000 for their local youth safety organization.
"There's no doubt that young people have the power to educate both their peers and adults about safe driving and safer roads," said NOYS Executive Director Sandy Spavone.
NOYS and the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF) also unveiled today the winning entry in their annual Drive 2 Life PSA Contest. This year's video was produced by 15-year-old Lauren Daniels from Oswego, New York, who created a 30-second spot about the dangers of distracted driving:
The PSA will air nationally throughout the month of May as part of National Youth Traffic Safety Month.
"For a lot of teens, this time of year is about kicking back, relaxing, and forgetting about responsibilities. But we all have a full-time responsibility when we get behind the wheel," said Elliot Johnson, a NOYS youth leader from Brookings, South Dakota. "These programs are a great opportunity to put the focus back on safety while kids are still in school so that everybody can have a fun, safe summer."
I couldn't agree more. And I thank NOYS, NRSF, and all of the young people across the country who are working together to help keep our roads safe this summer.