The Teens in the Driver Seat® (TDS) program is one of a few selected initiatives to be a part of a national best practice guide by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Developed with a grant from State Farm®, Curbing Teen Driver Crashes: An In-Depth Look at State Novice Driver Initiatives comes on the heels of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the newly enacted federal transportation funding law, which includes incentive programs that reward states for high performance in a number of areas, including — for the first time — teen driving.
“From its inception, TDS has been designed to be a grassroots effort to complement a good graduated driver licensing [GDL] policy,” said TDS Director Russell Henk. “A growing amount of data suggests that TDS is serving as a very effective solution when combined with GDL to bring about meaningful decreases in teen fatalities.”
Henk was one of nine panel members who were asked to share their insights regarding new, cutting-edge and/or exemplary activities that are showing or are expected to show promising results.
The publication, a follow-up to GHSA’s 2010 Protecting Teen Drivers: A Guidebook for State Highway Safety Offices, takes a detailed look at what states are doing to address teen driver safety in six key areas:
- strengthening GDL laws to ensure states have essential elements that address crash risk and skill building;
- ensuring understanding and enforcement of GDL laws by police officials;
- engaging parents in understanding, supporting and enforcing GDL laws;
- strengthening driver education and training;
- engaging teens in understanding and addressing driving risks; and
- garnering consistent media coverage of teen driving.
“There is no doubt that states have been working diligently to help teens survive their most dangerous driving years, as evidenced by the gains they’ve made in reducing teen driver crashes, injuries and fatalities,” said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha, who oversaw the development of this newest teen driving publication. “But there is concern that these gains may be leveling off. GHSA encourages states and teen driving safety advocates across the nation to review the initiatives and key elements for success identified in the report and leverage them to ensure the needle continues to move in the right direction.”
“The results from this latest report show that keeping teen drivers safe on the road is an ongoing and collaborative issue,” said Kellie Clapper, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs for State Farm. “As a leader in auto safety, State Farm is committed to working with GHSA and other safety organizations to keep our teens safe on the road.”
Launched in 2002, TDS is the first peer-to-peer program for teens that focuses solely on traffic safety and addresses all major risks for this age group — driving at night, speeding and street racing, distractions (such as cell phones or too many passengers), low seat belt use, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Teens help shape the program and are responsible for implementing it at program schools. More than 500 Texas schools have implemented TDS programs, reaching more than 500,000 teens to date. The program has also been deployed in states outside Texas, including California, Connecticut, Georgia, Montana and North Carolina.