Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
www.dps.state.ia.us

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Thursday, October 14, 2010 amurphy@dps.state.ia.us
(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office

NATIONAL TEEN DRIVER SAFETY WEEK
October 17-24, 2010

Des Moines, IOWA --- Everyone knows young people are the future of our nation, but it's becoming increasingly clear the future of young people on the nation's highways isn't quite so rosy. This is particularly true now that all manner of electronic devices are vying for the attention of young drivers over the act of driving itself. "Far too often, the devices are winning, and our kids are losing," says Larry Sauer, Bureau Chief, Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau.

While no one is immune to driving distractions supplied by the electronic gizmos they are bringing into their vehicles, teens seem to be particularly susceptible to the feverish pace of texting. National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), October 17-24, 2010, is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to unnecessary teen deaths on the road.

National Teen Driver Safety Week was established by Congress in 2007, and is held annually during the third week of October. The goal is to focus the country's attention on the serious issue of teen driver safety. In Iowa, the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau is asking law enforcement, parents, educators, and other influencers to be vigilant in bringing awareness and education to teen drivers.

This year's theme is "Reducing Distractions." Distractions, including friends as passengers, are the number one reason new drivers crash. Incidentally, motor vehicle crashes is also the number one cause of death for adolescents. Additionally, texting while driving and the use of electronic devices while driving are an emerging cause of both crashes and fatalities.

Iowa statistics:

  • In 2009, 41 young people ages 15-20 were killed in fatal crashes. This number is 7 less, or a 15% decrease, from the 2008 fatality number of 48.
  • From 2000-2009, nearly 850 people ages 16-24 were killed in traffic crashes.
  • During the 2000-2009 calendar years, over 4,600, 16-24 year olds were seriously injured in traffic crashes.
  • Additionally, drivers ages 16-24 typically represent over 30% of all drinking/impaired drivers in fatal and serious injury crashes.

Please contact your county sheriff's office or local police department for local crash statistics. To view a young driver fact sheet click here. For more statistics involving Iowa's youth, contact:

Mick Mulhern, Youth Coordinator
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Phone: (515) 725-0148
E-mail: mulhern@dps.state.ia.us
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