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