A recent survey shows that Cypress Falls students are more likely to engage in risky driving habits than other Texas teens, prompting the school to launch Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS), the nation’s first peer-to-peer safety program for young drivers.
More than 400 Texas teens die every year in traffic crashes, by far the number one killer of young people. Texas A&M Transportation Institute researchers attribute the crashes to inexperience, combined with one or more of the five main risks that plague young drivers: driving at night, distractions (primarily cell phones, texting and other teen passengers), speeding, low seat belt use, and alcohol.
TTI surveyed 435 Cypress Falls HS students in October, and compared findings to surveys done at numerous other urban high schools across Texas. This ongoing examination of teen driving behavior is the most extensive review of its kind ever done in Texas or in the United States. Among the findings:
- 64 percent of Cypress Falls students say they often drive late at night, compared with 49 percent of students statewide. Driving at night is the most common risk factor for teenage drivers.
- 46 percent of Cypress Falls students say they often talk on a cell phone while driving compared with 40 percent of Texas students.
- 60 percent of Cypress Falls students say they often speed, compared to 44 percent of Texas students.
However, Cypress Falls students were less likely to drive without a seatbelt (17 percent) than other Texas students (24 percent). Regarding alcohol use, the groups were tied at 13 percent.
Unlike other safety initiatives targeting young people behind the wheel, TDS involves teens directly to help develop and deliver the right safety messages.
“Numerous studies – and our own experience – tell us that teenagers listen to and significantly influence each other,” said Cypress Falls Principal Becky Denton. “We are so excited that our students have become the voice for safe driving and that they are spreading that message to their peers, their families and community.
TTI developed TDS and provides the science, materials and support for the program, while each student group determines how the program will work in their school.
“Most young drivers don’t know that they’re 10 times more likely to die in a crash than people in other age groups,” says Program creator Russell Henk of TTI. “But they need to hear the message from a source they trust; they need to hear it from each other. That’s what Teens in the Driver Seat is all about.”
The Teens in the Driver Seat program is offered to Texas schools through funding support from the Texas Department of Transportation and State Farm Insurance.
Schools interested in starting the program can learn more at www.t-driver.com.
Check out Cypress Falls High School in the news:
- NPR Houston – Driver Safety Program Steered by Teenagers, Not Adults
- Houston Chronicle – Cy Falls students taking the driver’s seat
- KTRH News Radio – Teens Take the Lead in a New Driving Study