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Letter: Teen drivers and safety

Published: Thursday, June 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

To the Editor:

Memorial Day marked the beginning of the 100 deadliest days of the year on our nation’s roads for teen drivers. Traditionally during the summer months, hundreds of teens are killed in car crashes and their families devastated. These deaths are unacceptable, especially because these crashes are preventable. I implore parents to remain vigilant as they play a big role in the fight to end these tragic crashes.

School might be out, but teens still need to be off the roads by 10 p.m., when teen crash risks sharply increase. Although teens may spend more time with friends during the summer months, teens should not ride with or carry other teen passengers. Just one teen passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by as much as 48 percent. Parents, please don’t ever sacrifice safety for convenience. If your teen is out late or with friends, make other travel arrangements. The risk is not worth the potential consequence.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, July 23, 2011, and July 30, 2011, tied for the deadliest days for young people ages 15-20 on our nation’s highways (25 motor vehicle deaths occurred on each of those dates).

Additionally, in 2011, 60 percent of 16- to 20-year-old passenger vehicle occupants who lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing a seatbelt. This data further proves the public health problem we are facing when our teen drivers do not have driving rules set and enforced at home.

As the victim advocate for the HEARTS Network – an initiative of the National Safety Council and The Allstate Foundation – I work with families to help raise awareness about why teen crashes occur and what we can do to prevent them. I encourage parents to get involved and become advocates for their teens’ safety on our roadways. By doing so, I’m confident this summer can be the safest yet for our teen drivers.

Charlene Sligting

An Elgin resident and victim advocate for the HEARTS Network

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