In the first public event announcing the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI)-developed Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program in California, Franklin High School students in Elk Grove conducted a news conference for Sacramento-area media Sept. 19.
The students outlined their efforts in combating teen car crashes, which is the number one killer of teens across the country. In California, teen drivers were responsible for 1,744 fatal crashes between 2006 and 2010.
“It’s a big concern here,” says Jill Cooper of the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at the University of California – Berkeley. Cooper will evaluate the results of the TDS program in California, which is funded by a grant from the state’s Office of Traffic Safety and State Farm Insurance. “The peer-to-peer approach of TDS has been very successful in Texas, and we think the program will be a big complement to our efforts in reducing teen crashes here in California.”
Researchers attribute teen crashes to inexperience, combined with the five main risks of young drivers: driving at night, speeding, distraction, lack of seat belt use, and alcohol. In the TDS program, the students share these risks with other students during year-long awareness efforts.
“As young people, we listen to each other, and we’re influenced a lot by our friends, Says Marsela Young, one of the TDS program leaders at Franklin. “And we know that any message is always going to mean a lot more if it comes from someone our own age.”
In addition to California, TDS is in high schools in Georgia, North Carolina and Montana. In Texas, where the program began, more than 500 schools have taken part in the peer-to-peer program.
“With the success of TDS in Texas, we are happy to see the program expanding into other states,” Russell Henk, TDS creator and TTI senior research engineer, says. “We are glad to be a partner in California’s effort in reducing teen crashes.”
For more information, visit the TDS website.