Parents of teen drivers could find a note in their mailbox from a law enforcement officer. Officers will use a parent notification pamphlet to let parents know when and where a teen in the household has been stopped for traffic violations.
The parent notification effort is part of “Idaho Teen Driver Safety Awareness Week,” designated by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. The week coincides with stepped-up law enforcement patrols designed to change aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating and running yellow lights.
Statewide enforcement patrols will continue through Sept. 30.
Idaho teens are involved in four times more aggressive driving crashes than all other drivers, even though they represent a much smaller (7 percent) segment of the state’s driving population, according the transportation department’s Office of Traffic and Highway Safety (OTHS).
Overall, teens age 15-19 are more than twice as likely to be involved in crashes as all other drivers.
“There are proven ways parents can reduce a teen’s crash risk,” says Josephine O’Connor, OTHS. “Limiting the number of teen passengers and limiting after-dark trips are two ways parents can immediately reduce a new teen driver’s crash risk.”
Teen crash rates triple at night and increase five times when a young driver is accompanied by teenage passengers, adds O’Connor.
Tips like these are included in the parent notification pamphlet, which is provided and distributed by the transportation department’s OTHS. The pamphlet is pre-addressed “to the parents of.”
During the traffic stop, the teen or the officer can fill in the mailing address, which the officer can verify by computer using the teen’s driver license number.
“Parental involvement is the best type of teen crash prevention,” O’Connor says. “When parents are aware of problems, they are more likely to become involved and use their influence to improve teens’ driving behavior before it’s too late.”
Idaho drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 were involved in 7,408 crashes last year. Nationally, 16- and 17-year-old drivers have the highest crash rate per mile of any age group.
For more information on ways to reduce teen crash risks, visit the National Safety Council’s Web site at www.nsc.org/issues/teendriving or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety site at www.iihs.org/research/topics/teenagers.html