Using hands-free phones puts teen drivers at risk

According to a report released Feb. 26 by the Governors Highway Safety Association, fatal traffic crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers were higher nationwide during the first six months of 2012 than during the first six months of 2011. While this national trend is alarming, New York experienced a decrease in these tragic losses last year. New York’s strong Graduated Driver License (GDL) laws are working to help keep young drivers safe while they gain the experience necessary to become good drivers. But recent crashes involving teens are a stark reminder that we must redouble our efforts.

Teen driving laws could be even more effective if younger drivers were discouraged from the non-emergency use of cellphones – even hands-free phones – during the first two stages of licensure, when a teen holds a learner’s permit or a junior license. The 2011 License to Save report issued by the Allstate Foundation projects that New York could save 29 additional lives by further strengthening its GDL laws.

The New York Teen Safe Driving Coalition works to protect teen drivers by educating parents, students, lawmakers and others about GDL and what we can do to help teens build skill and minimize risk. Community involvement is critical to improving safety for teen drivers and those with whom they share the roads.

Susan Pedo

New York Teen Safe Driving Coalition