Friday, February 10, 2012

It Takes A Community to Keep Teens Safe on the Road

This Sunday’s Pueblo Chieftain included the article, "Teen drivers need education - and parental help," which highlights the collaborative work of the Pueblo City-County Health Department and its community partners to promote teen motor vehicle safety.

The article points out, “The state of Colorado adopted graduated driving licensing laws several years ago to address some of these risks and ease inexperienced teen drivers more safely into the driver’s seat.” Since the law was enacted, Colorado has experienced approximately a 60 percent reduction in fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes; however, motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading killer of Colorado teens.

Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicates that teens ages 15-19 are 5.4 times more likely to die and 3.2 times more likely to be hospitalized for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash. Teens ages 15-19 have the second highest hospitalization rate for injuries due to motor vehicle crashes. Undoubtedly, there is more that can be done to keep Colorado teens safe on the road.

For this reason motor vehicle safety was selected as one of Colorado’s 10 Winnable Battles. Colorado's 10 Winnable Battles are public health and environmental priorities with large-scale impact on health and the environment, and with known, effective strategies to address them. Two proven evidence-based strategies that would have a measurable impact on saving lives, reducing injury and public costs related to motor vehicle crashes include:
  • Simplify and strengthen Colorado's existing graduated drivers license law to help young drivers gain experience under lower-risk conditions and to aid enforcement.
  • Increase seatbelt usage for all vehicle passengers, at all times. 
Through the effective use of resources provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Maternal and Child Health Program and the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Pueblo County - City Health Department ,and its community partners, have already initiated efforts to achieve measurable impact by implementing a comprehensive teen driving safety program.

“The Pueblo City-County Health Department, working with law enforcement, Parkview Medical Center, Pueblo Community College, ABC Driving School and State Farm Insurance, has been addressing teen motor vehicle safety for the past four years. The Teaching Your Teen to Drive classes began in February 2009 and continues; 238 parents and teens have been educated on the risks of teen driving, understanding the graduated driving licensing, tips for teaching teens to drive and safety information. These classes are offered at no charge, every other month, at the health department.”

Proven, measurable evidence-based policy strategies coupled with community programs that encourage parent engagement and a comprehensive driving experience will keep Colorado's youth safe on the road.

For more information about teen driving visit

For more information about Colorado’s Motor Vehicle Safety Winnable Battle contact Lindsey Myers at 303-692-2589 or

For more information about effective injury prevention policy strategies contact Natalie Gregory at 303-692-2477 or