(NASHVILLE, TN), October 18, 2010 — Tennessee Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) announced today his support for the goals of National Teen Driver Safety Week.  The week, promoted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is observed the third week of October each year and will be held October 17 to 23, 2010.  Tracy said the week marks an increase in intensive programming used to educate teens on the risks associated with driving and to encourage them to drive more safely and with fewer distractions.

According to NHTSA, in 2009 there were 5,623 fatalities in motor vehicle crashes involving 15-20 year old drivers.  Tracy was the sponsor of legislation passed in 2009 which prohibits sending or reading text messages on public roads and highways while the driver is operating a motor vehicle in motion.  Over two-thirds of those under the age of 24 who were polled have admitted to sending text messages while driving.  

“Despite what they may think, teens are not invincible,” said Senator Tracy.  “We need to better inform students of the severity of a vehicle crash and the very real consequences to themselves, their passengers, and others on the road for operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner.  In addition to driver error and speeding, distracted driving is a key component in a vehicle crash.” 

Surveys also show that when asked about avoiding distractions while driving, 71% of teens recall their parents telling them to pull over to talk on the phone or to refrain from using the phone all together.  Despite having conversations about the dangers associated with distracted driving, one-third of teens said they have used their phone while driving in the past three months.

 “We must reinforce the idea that once a vehicle is in motion, the driver must devote his or her full attention to the task at hand – operating that vehicle safely,” added Tracy.  “We need to support efforts to effectively educate teens and families about ways to address increased safety measures for teen drivers, which is what this initiative does.  I encourage all parents to talk to your teen about safe driving habits and be a positive role model for your young driver.  No family should have to incur the heartache that so many families across the country feel every year.”

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