Teen Driver Safety Week focuses on safe driving conversations
SALT LAKE CITY — A nationwide campaign designed to encourage parents to talk to their teens about the rules of the road is underway.
It’s called Teen Driver Safety Week and it runs through Oct. 22.
This week, and every week, parents should have conversations with their teens about the greatest dangers for teen drivers: alcohol, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and the number of passengers according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In 2021, 33 teens died on Utah roads.
The Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Department of Public Safety, and impacted families gathered Tuesday to share personal stories of the impact of setting examples for future drivers.
Sharaden Caldwell lost her 18-year-old sister in a car crash last year.
Caldwell described her inseparable bond with her family, particularly her twin sister and big sister Payton.
“As we got older, we all became best friends,” Caldwell said. “We hung out all the time. It was awesome.”
Call them three peas in a pod.
Then on June 7, 2021, everything changed.
“Payton could have been here with us if someone wouldn’t have made a small decision that ended it,” Caldwell said.
Payton graduated from high school that night. She and one of her friends were driving to Deer Creek Reservoir when they were faultlessly involved in a fatal crash on Highway 89.
Caldwell said she hoped sharing her story may save another life and keep other families from going through what her family continues to endure.
“It’s cheaper to buy an Uber than pay for a funeral,” she said.
According to the DHHS, UDOT, and DPS, the risk of a motor vehicle crash is higher among 16 to 19-year-olds than any other age group.
Law enforcement said they see things both through a big-picture perspective and up close.
Capt. Wade Breuer with Utah Highway Patrol, said they’re on the lookout for bad driving behavior to help prevent tragedies like the 33 deaths in 2021.
“There’s that connection that’s made immediately because oftentimes, it’s us that go to the houses and let these next of kin and these loved ones – let them know that their loved one has been injured and or killed in a car crash,” Breuer said.
He said it’s important for parents to have a conversation about the rules for safe driving with teen drivers and those not even old enough to drive.
“Statistics have shown that parents who are involved with their new driver’s behavior can really teach them good behavior,” Breuer explained.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 90% of teen crashes happen in the first few months after they get a driver’s license.
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