Georgia Governor announces plan for teen driving commission

National studies show that people between the ages of 15 and 19 are the the highest risk group of all drivers. 16-year-olds have the highest crash rates of this age group, and they are three times more likely to die in an automobile accident than an  average of all other drivers combined. That is a sobering thought, especially if you are the parent of a teen who drives or who is transported by another teen.

Additionally, statistics show that the death rates of 16- and 17-year-old drivers increases with each additional passenger in their vehicle. 63% of teenage passenger deaths occurred with another teenager at the driver’s wheel.

Cellphone use, speeding, and alcohol impairment are at the front of reasons for teenage drivers’ accidents, and a little over 50% of all teenagers killed as a result of a car crash aren’t using their seat belts at the time of collision.

Currently, the Georgia Department of Driver Services has an entire page of their website dedicated to resources and information for teens and their parents about teen driver safety. Governor Nathan Deal wants to do more, however. He’s asking Georgia teens for their advice on teen driver safety – specifically, how to reduce the number of crashes involving their peers.

Last week Governor Deal  announced that he is forming a Governor’s Commission on Teen Driving. This panel will be made up of at least 15 members between the ages of 15 and 19 and will be overseen by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. These teens will have some say on how to educate young drivers about dangerous driving habits. Harris Blackburn, director of the highway safety office, believes that “No one can advise our state on how to reach teenagers better than other teenagers.”

Kaitlyn Yarborough is a high school senior who agrees, saying, “I think when other young people that might have the same experiences and might have experienced something horrible having to do with drunk driving or something like that can really relate to other high school students and make them really think about it.”

The Teen Driving Commission will prepare reports to Governor Deal with their ideas on a government strategy  to more effectively educate teen drivers. The Commission will deal with topics like drunk driving and texting while driving.

“I think this is kind of really proactive,” says high school junior Marcus Gouthro, “…not only is it helping the students learn, helping the students with the laws, it’s making the roads safer and two, it’s helping these students get an in-depth view on the government itself, kind of the other way around.”

The deadline for teen drivers to apply to serve on the Governor’s Commission is September 20th.

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