Friday, April 18, 2014

Your Healthy Family: Keeping Teens Safe

From:  KOAA New 5

April is "Distracted Driving Awareness" month.
The non-profit "Drive Smart Colorado" - which partners with colorado springs police - has a new online teen driver safety program for parents to help keep your kids safe behind the wheel.
"A statistic it's not just a number it's a human being," said Maile Gray, Executive Director for Drive Smart Colorado.
She says the free online program will help parents support their teens through our states Graduated Driver Licensing law.
"This site has several modules. You can take it at your leisure and it walks you through the key components of our laws that are put in place to prevent traffic crashes and fatalities of teenagers," she said.
Since the law was increased to include things like passenger restrictions and night time curfews teen deaths have decreased.
"In 2004 -107 teenagers died in Colorado, last year 36 teenagers died, you can see right there that because Graduating Driver Licensing went into effect - the teen fatality rate has absolutely plummeted," said Gray.
But there was a slight up-tick last year in fatalities.
"It rose 10 percent, and while that might not seem like much, it signifies the death of teenagers and that is huge!" Gray said.
They're hoping to empower parents to help enforce the law and save more lives.

For more information head to Drive Smart Colorado or view the News 5 Broadcast.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

PowerTalk21 Discussion

April 21, 2014
Register on the  MADD website

MADD's annual PowerTalk21 initiative is a campaign throughout April to encourage parents to talk to their kids about alcohol. The national MADD office has new survey information about parent influence on teen drinking behavior and is promoting the Power of Parents program this month. The Power of Parents program includes a free online workshop (in English and in Spanish) for parents on April 21. The data indicates that teens whose parents send a clear message that drinking is completely unacceptable are 80% less likely to drink alcohol underage.

Other outcomes:
Research shows that people who don't drink until age 21 are:
  • More than 80 percent less likely to abuse alcohol or become alcohol-dependent later in life than those who drink before age 15
  • 70 percent less likely to drive drunk later in life than those who drink before age 14
  • 85 percent less likely to be involved in an alcohol-related traffic crash later in life than those who drink before age 14
  • More than 90 percent less likely to be injured while under the influence of alcohol later in life than those who drink before age 15
  • 90 percent less likely to be in a fight after drinking later in life than those who drink before age 15
Please register for the discussion and promote in your community using the PowerTalk21 flyers (in English and in Spanish).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just Get It Across: A Parent-Directed Demonstration Program to Increase Young Teen Seat Belt Use | NHTSA

The purpose of this NHTSA study was to conduct an independent evaluation to assess a demonstration seat belt program, Just Get It Across, which was developed by the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio (Rainbow Babies) to increase seat belt use by 13- to 15-year-old teens through parental influence. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 13- to 15-year-old teens. While seat belt use has been an effective method to prevent injury from motor vehicle crashes, data from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) and Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) suggest that this period may be a critical time when safe occupant protection habits begin to decline and intervention to encourage belt use is needed. Most teens in the 13- to 15-year-old age group are not yet licensed to drive independently and rely on transportation provided by others, often parents or guardians. Recent research has also found that some parents find that there is a gap in messaging directed to them regarding seat belt safety after their children have out grown their booster seats. This may contribute to a lost opportunity to help parents promote belt use by their young teen children in this critical period leading to the start of independent driving and progressively lower seat belt use rates during the early licensure years. According to recent research, 8- to 15-year-old children reported that belt use reminders and encouragement from parents were the best ways to encourage them to use seat belts. However, parents did not seem to realize the potential of their influence and thought that outside motivators would be most effective at encouraging their children to use seat belts. Parents can play important roles in motor vehicle injury prevention and these findings suggest that programs to help parents influence their 13- to 15-year-old children to use seat belts are needed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why the Focus Should Be on “Engaged Driving” for Teens

From: The Children's Hospital Philadelphia

While working with other auto safety researchers over the past year as part of a distracted driving panel organized by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM) and State Farm®, I have been introduced to the term “engaged driving” and prefer it to the term “distracted driving.” I think it better describes what we want drivers to do to be safe.

There always has, and always will be, sources of distraction to drivers in and outside the vehicle. The term “distracted driving” is relatively new in auto safety, and I suspect that most people think it refers to texting/ emailing/making calls from a phone while driving. But distracted driving is a complex issue that extends beyond a driver’s smartphone. The ultimate goal of any related intervention is to keep the driver engaged in driving-related tasks, despite a number of potential sources of distraction. Experts on our panel examined the topic from many angles in order to better understand the broader issue of driver engagement and to inform efforts to develop interventions that encourage engaged driving by experienced adult and novice teen drivers.Research into how young drivers make decisions about how often and under what circumstances they’re likely to “disengage” from the driving task will help us understand how best to motivate teens to remain fully engaged and prevent crashing, especially in higher risk situations.

Remaining fully engaged with driving is particularly important for teens for a couple of reasons:
Because of their inexperience behind the wheel, teens are not as capable of evaluating when a driving situation might not need their full attention for a brief period of time.
It’s likely that teens are motivated differently than adults. Due to this fact, we can’t simply take what works best to motivate adults to help teens remain engaged while driving.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Distracted Driving Awareness Month Highlights Need for Parent Involvement in Teen Driving Process

 U drive. U text. U pay. Coinciding with Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a powerful new advertising campaign aimed at teens, which depicts with brutal honesty what can happen when driving distracted. In response, the Colorado Teen Driving Alliance (CTDA) —a group of government agencies, law enforcement and private partners who work together to reduce teen driving fatalities and injuries—reminds Colorado parents of their important role in promoting safe driving behavior to teens.

“Distracted driving poses a serious threat for all drivers, and particularly for inexperienced drivers such as teens,” said Ali Maffey, policy and communication coordinator at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). “According to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. Not only is this behavior illegal for those under age 18 in Colorado, many teens are putting their life at risk every time they drive.”

In October 2013, the CTDA launched a new online parent course providing step-by-step instructions on how parents can support their teens through Colorado’s Graduated Driver Licensing laws. The course was prompted by a recent CDPHE survey of 738 parents of teens throughout Colorado showing only 6.4 percent of parents could accurately identify components of graduated driver licensing laws, including cell phone use, passenger restrictions and seat belt requirements.

“Getting up-to-speed on Colorado’s GDL laws is the best way for parents to keep their teens safe while learning to drive,” said Carol Gould, highway safety manager at the Colorado Department of Transportation. “Teens who say their parents set rules and monitor their driving behavior in a supportive way are 50 percent less likely to crash and 70 percent less likely to drive intoxicated. This highlights the need for parents and teens to approach the learning process as a true partnership.”

To learn more about Colorado’s graduated driving licensing laws, how to support teens through the process and access the online parent course, visit

Efforts to Make Tougher Penalties for Texting While Driving

A group of attorneys are saying distracted drivers are causing more accidents than those with DUI's. Local lawyers, part of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, are working to make penalties for texting and driving tougher.
While it is illegal in Colorado for anyone to text and drive, the fine is only $50. Attorney at law Jason Landress said the penalty should be more, as he sees the effects of distracted driving first hand.
"We deal with the way a person's life is changed forever because someone decided to pick their phone in a car," said Landress.
Landress said texting and driving should be treated more like a DUI. While he warns against making penalties too extreme, he thinks more should be done to deter drivers from picking up their phones.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The case for almost never turning left while driving

From: Washington Post

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

Please remember that quote as I propose what will appear outlandish — a ban on left turns on heavily-trafficked roads. Making left-hand turns is as American as apple pie. But remember, we once accepted slavery and the beating of wives and children. There’s no doubt we’re doing things today that future generations will find abhorrent. Here’s why turning left on crowded streets is one of them:

Left turns are unsafe for everyone.

Federal data have shown that 53.1 percent of crossing-path crashes involve left turns, but only 5.7 percent involve right turns. That’s almost 10 times as many crashes involving left turns as right. A study by New York City’s transportation planners concluded that left-hand turns were three times as likely to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian as right-hand turns. And 36 percent of fatal accidents involving a motorcycle involve a left-hand turn in front of a motorcycle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

“Left turns create some concerns when it comes to generating potential for congestion, back-up traffic flow, safety, accident situations,” said Phil Caruso, the deputy executive director for technical programs at the Institute of Transportation Engineers. “So if you can eliminate left turns, especially concurrent left turns, that’s a positive.”

We could save lives by restricting left turns, but we’re unwilling to sacrifice what we see as a needed convenience. Even if you discount the safety concerns, the efficiency of turning left is questionable.

Engineers don’t like left-hand turns.