WASHINGTON, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- To kick off Global Youth Traffic Safety Month (GYTSM), youth from across the country rallied today with National Organizations for Youth Safety® (NOYS), federal government leaders, global partners including the Nelson Mandela family, and corporate representatives to address road and traffic safety issues to help put an end to motor vehicle crashes – the leading cause of death for teens and to celebrate the efforts of leaders working with teens to address this national crisis.
GYTSM brings attention to the issue of teen safe driving as we face the high-risk summer driving months. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Memorial Day is the start of the deadliest time of year on the roads for teens.
The following new 2011 NHTSA statistics confirm this statement and help shed some light on the issue:
- July 23 and July 30, 2011 (both Saturdays) tied for the deadliest days in 2011 for young people ages 15-20 on our nation's highways (25 motor vehicle deaths on each of those dates);
- In 2011, 60 percent of 15-20 year-old passenger vehicle occupants who died in motor vehicle crashes were NOT wearing a seatbelt;
- In 2011, for 21 percent of the fatalities in crashes involving a driver age 15 to 20, the young (age 15 to 20 years-old) driver had a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher;
- Over 1,200 people were killed in 2011 in crashes involving underage drinking and driving.
"We all share a responsibility to help keep our youngest and most inexperienced drivers safe when they get behind the wheel," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "Global Youth Traffic Safety Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of good driving habits as we enter the summer months, and I thank all of the youth leaders across the country who are making an effort to improve road safety in their communities."
"Now is the time to do more, not less, to tackle this public health epidemic that results in more than 3,500 teen lives lost each year," said Sandy Spavone, executive director of NOYS. A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that more 16 and 17 year-old drivers died on our nation's roadways in the first six months of 2012 than the first six months of 2011. "Over 1,000 youth ages 15-20 die in traffic crashes during the summer season as compared to an average of 800 teen deaths during the non-summer seasons. We therefore must renew our commitment to their safety and help them be safe on our roadways."
Overall, U.S. traffic fatality numbers for 2012, released just last week, show an increase of 5.3 percent from the previous year, reversing several years of annual declines. A total of 1,713 more people were killed in traffic crashes in 2012 than in 2011 with a total of 34,080 lives lost, according to NHTSA data. The fatality rate, which is the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, also rose - from 1.10 to 1.16. While total vehicle miles traveled in 2012 increased by 9.1 billion (a .3 percent increase), fatalities increased at a much greater rate of 5.3 percent.
Federal and corporate leaders working together to address teen traffic safety and support youth-led leadership to reduce traffic crashes joined youth from across the country to launch the U.S. GYTSM campaign at a rally held at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. Distinguished guests included: U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Office of Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske; U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin; National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman; Centers for Disease Control Director Thomas Frieden; National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland, South Africa Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, and Kweku Mandela (grandson of Nelson Mandela).
Youth Choice Awards were presented to individual leaders including: NTSB's Hersman; North American Director, Make Roads Safe - The Campaign for Global Road Safety Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr; non-profit leader organization the Ad Council; business and industry leader Ford Driving Skills for Life; and a national media outreach leader award to Teen Vogue.
Following the Washington, D.C. rally event, government, non-profit, and corporate leaders joined Kweku Mandela representing the Zenani Mandela Campaign to participate in the Long Short Walk 'N Roll for Road Safety in support of GYTSM and the U.N. Global Road Safety Week. Hundreds joined in a Long Short Walk 'N Roll from the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. to the Smithsonian Castle to raise awareness for roadway safety around the world. Over 20,000 people are uniting to walk for safe roads for all.
The events in Washington continued at the NTSB Teen Driver Open House where rallies in four cities around the country video conferenced in to the NTSB members to discuss youth traffic safety efforts in their communities. Sites that showcased their efforts included: Dallas, TX; Dearborn, MI; Edison, NJ; and Gillespie, IL. Similar rallies are being held across the country at over 340 high schools participating in the Act Out Loud® program. NTSB Chairman Hersman led a conversation between youth, federal leaders, and corporate leaders on how we can effectively work together to reduce youth traffic fatalities. "Sadly, motor vehicle crashes are still the number one killer of our young people," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "The NTSB values organizations like NOYS and efforts such as Global Youth Traffic Safety Month which continue to spotlight this important safety issue."
NOYS and The Allstate Foundation have partnered to host Act Out Loud as the key program of GYTSM to empower and engage teens to focus on peer-to-peer education efforts around safe driving education efforts in their communities. The rallies in Gillespie, IL and Edison, NJ are showcasing the youth-led efforts of the Act Out Loud teams in their schools. "Since 2008, Act Out Loud has helped millions of teens raise their voices to save young lives on the road," said Vicky Dinges, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Allstate. "We're proud of the fact that Act Out Loud was the first program to help launch Global Youth Traffic Safety Month and we are thrilled to see the movement take on greater significance nationally, and now internationally too. All the activities this May will make a difference for young people and everyone who shares the road with them." For more information on Act Out Loud please visit www.actoutloud.org.
AT&T hosted an It Can Wait event with students at H. Grady Spruce High School in Dallas, TX. AT&T spokesperson Angela Ross featured AT&T's Drive Mode app while encouraging students to take the pledge to never text and drive. Students also experienced the AT&T 3-D driving simulator that simulates the dangers of taking one's eyes off the road. "We are thrilled to be working with organizations like NOYS in support of Global Youth Traffic Safety Month," said AT&T Director of Consumer Safety and Education Andrea Brands. "We want to save lives and make texting and driving as unacceptable as drinking and driving – no text is worth a life." Additional information on the It Can Wait campaign can be found at http://itcanwait.com.
In addition to hosting an event on May 8, AT&T announced this week a new contribution to fund the NOYS 2013 National Teen Distracted Driving Summit that will be held in Washington, D.C., this fall. This contribution will be for the development of a best practices guide for school administrators on school policies for teen drivers.
Ford Driving Skills for Life marked its 10th anniversary of implementing teen safe driving programs by highlighting the growth of a signature program called Strive 4 a Safer Drive. Now in its second year, Strive 4 a Safer Drive encourages students to create peer-to-peer safe-driving campaigns for a chance to participate in Ford Driving Skills for Life hands-on training. "We are extremely proud of the work we have done over the last ten years to support teen safety," said Jim Graham, Manager of Ford Driving Skills for Life. "The teens and parents that we work with every day inspire us to push forward in the mission to keep teens safe on our roadways." Strive for a Safer Drive is a partnership with AAA Michigan and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. The Ford Driving Skills for Life program works closely with schools across the U.S. and includes hands-on community driving events, Web-based learning, government grants, fun contests and free educational materials for parents and teachers. More information can be found at www.DrivingSkillsforLife.com.
Also occurring during the Global Youth Traffic Safety Month launch, U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John Pocari is joining with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Fedex Ground, Maryland State Police and Amanda Kloehr, a distracted driving crash survivor, to conduct a "Teens and Trucks" safety demonstration for youth leaders at the U.S. DOT Headquarters.
"Working with organizations like NOYS helps us to reach a particular problem demographic. Twenty-six percent of fatalities involving large trucks and buses are drivers between the ages of 16-25," said Steve Keppler, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. "These deaths are preventable, and this active demonstration will help to educate these youth leaders on how to operate safely around large trucks and buses so they can take the message to their peers back home."
For specific/detailed information on the other rallies across the country, information on today's award winners, and information on the "Teens and Trucks" event, please contact Cathy Gillen at (443) 463-4449 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE National Organizations for Youth Safety