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P.O. Box 160
Trenton, NJ
Media Contact:
Mairin Bellack/Brian Ahrens
(MVC) 609-292-5203
Public Information:
(609) 292-6500
RELEASE: October 18, 2017

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MEDIA RELEASE

Prepare Your Teen Driver for the Road Ahead
Teen Driver Safety Week is October 15 – October 21

(TRENTON) – The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) is joining with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 15-21) to encourage all parents to talk to their teen drivers about the rules of the road.

“Parents have a very strong influence on their teens, even as they grow older and become more independent,” said MVC Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.  “Teen Driver Safety Week is an ideal opportunity for parents and caregivers to talk to inexperienced drivers about risky behaviors that can lead to fatal consequences behind the wheel, and it is also a good time to talk about the strides the MVC has made towards promoting safe driving among this vulnerable population.”

In order to encourage safe driving among teens, the MVC recently announced a partnership with NJM Insurance Company to promote the award winning Share the Keys program, which is available at no cost to New Jersey high schools.  Share the Keys is a research-based driver education initiative designed to provide the parents of teen drivers with the tools and resources they need to build and reinforce safe driving habits.  It includes a facilitator-led interactive presentation for parents and teens that focuses on the benefits of parental involvement when teens are preparing or actively learning to drive, and is supported by a comprehensive resource guide and companion website.

In addition to Share the Keys, the MVC has been promoting its JustDrive.com campaign since 2015.  At the heart of the campaign is an interactive website that highlights the dangers and penalties for talking or texting while driving and promotes a forum for citizens to share their own experiences and thoughts about this irresponsible behavior. The JustDrive.com website also serves as a repository of information on the subject from federal, state and local entities who are united in combating this national epidemic.

Last year, 18 teen drivers were killed in motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey. That represents a 10-year decline of 56 percent from 2001, when 41 teen drivers were killed. This 10-year drop-off in teen driver fatalities in New Jersey exceeds the national average from a similar period by nine percent.

“Driving is a privilege that most teenagers look forward to and want to enjoy. It is important that we equip them with the right knowledge and provide them with the rules that will ensure they stay safe on the road,” said New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky.

Parents can play an important role in helping ensure their teen drivers take smart steps to stay safe on the road. NHTSA gives parents tips on how to talk about safe driving behaviors with their teens and to address the most dangerous and deadly driving behaviors for teen drivers: alcohol, lack of seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and driving with passengers.

NHTSA’s website, www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving, has detailed information and statistics on teen driving and offers the following basic rules parents can use to help reduce the risks for teen drivers:

1 No Drinking and Driving. All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol, but they are still at risk. Nationally in 2015, almost one out of five teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Remind your teen that driving under the influence of any impairing substance, including illicit and prescription drugs, could have deadly consequences and is strictly enforced.
2 Buckle Up—Every Trip, Every Time. Everyone—Front Seat and Back. Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle and it is required in all 50 States. Yet too many teens are not buckling up, and neither are their passengers. In 2015, 531 passengers died in a car, truck, or SUV driven by a teen driver, and 58 percent of those passengers were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash. Even more troubling, in 84 percent of cases when the teen driver was unbuckled, the passengers were also unbuckled. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what – front seat and back. 
3 Put the Phone Down – Just Drive. Distractions while driving are more than just risky—they can be deadly and are outlawed in 47 States, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 2015, among teen passenger-vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes, 10 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting and using a phone while driving. Distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone use; other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving are all examples of
dangerous distractions for teen drivers.
4 Follow the Posted Speed Limit. Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens. In 2015, almost one-third (29 percent) of teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding at the time of the crash. Remind your teen to always drive within the speed limit.
5 Passengers. Passengers in a teen’s car can lead to disastrous consequences. According to data analyzed by NHTSA, teen drivers were 2.5 times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer, when compared to driving alone. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behaviors triples when driving with multiple passengers.
6 Avoid Driving Tired. Teens are busier than ever – studying, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and spending time with friends are among the long list of things they do to fill their time. However, with all of these activities, teens tend to compromise something very important: sleep. This is a dangerous habit that can lead to drowsy driving. Make sure your teen gets a good night’s sleep; their grades, their friends, their passengers, and other drivers will thank them because they’ll be a safer driver.

“Laws are not enough to protect these young drivers.  We need parents to set the rules before their teens hit the road,” added Martinez. “We hope parents will start the conversation about safe driving during National Teen Driver Safety Week – but then continue the conversations every day throughout the year to help keep their teens safe behind the wheel.”

For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and safe driving tips for your teens, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.

More information about the Share the Keys initiative is available at https://www.njm.com/share-the-keys

For more information about the JustDrive campaign, visit www.justdrive.com