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NHTSA 41-14
Monday, October 20, 2014
Contact: Troy Green, 202-366-9550, Public.Affairs@dot.gov


Traffic crashes remain leading killer of teens in the U.S.; NHTSA's '5 to Drive' campaign designed to reduce high rate of teen traffic fatalities


WASHINGTON – In conjunction with National Teen Driver Safety Week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today addressed the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) annual conference and highlighted the critical role of adults in developing safe teen drivers. Secretary Foxx touted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) "5 to Drive" campaign, which encourages parents and guardians to set clear rules related to some of the riskiest behaviors associated with young drivers before they get behind the wheel.

The "5 to Drive" campaign is designed to reduce the staggering number of motor vehicle crashes involving young drivers. Nationally, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds. In 2012, 4,283 young drivers aged 15-20 were involved in fatal crashes, and 1,875 of those drivers (44 percent) died in the crash.

"Despite a declining trend, young drivers remain the largest percentage of crashes and deaths on our roads and we must all do more to change that," said Secretary Foxx. "It's vitally important that anyone responsible for a teenager, including teens themselves, join our '5 to Drive' campaign."

As part of the "5 to Drive" campaign, NHTSA urges parents and guardians to discuss with their teens one safety topic each day during National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs October 19 – 25, and to continue those conversations throughout the learning-to-drive process. The campaign teaches rules of the road to raise awareness of the dangerous choices teens make due to a lack of maturity, a penchant for taking risks, and their overall inexperience behind the wheel:

  1. No cell phone use or texting while driving – Ten percent of the people killed in teen driving crashes in 2012 died when the teen driver was distracted at the time of the crash;
  2. No extra passengers – NHTSA data show that a teenage driver is 2.5 times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger and three times more likely with multiple teenager passengers;
  3. No speeding – In 2012, speeding was a factor in almost half (48%) of the crashes that killed 15- to 20-year-old drivers;
  4. No alcohol – The minimum legal drinking age in every state is 21. However, among 15-to-20 year old drivers killed in crashes in 2012, 28% of them had been drinking; and
  5. No driving or riding without a seat belt – In 2012, more than half (60 percent) of all 15- to 20-year-old occupants of passenger vehicles killed in crashes were unrestrained.

"All too often, teens drivers make choices behind the wheel that can result in devastating and lifelong consequences," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. "However, these risky driving behaviors – and the devastation they cause - are entirely preventable. The '5 To Drive' program offers parents and young drivers simple steps they can take to establish the rules of the road and prevent heartbreaking tragedies from occurring."

NHTSA also reminds parents and guardians to serve as good role models by practicing safe driving behaviors during every trip. Young drivers often pattern the behavior of their parents. In addition, parents should learn their state's graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws before their teen drivers get behind the wheel. GDL programs exist in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These laws allow inexperienced drivers to gain experience by gradually introducing driving tasks and privileges through controlled exposure to high-risk situations.

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U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
1-888-327-4236
1-800-424-9153 (TTY)