In the recent Texas Highways Safety Annual Report FY 2012, Teens in the Driver Seat, project of Texas A&M Transportation Institute, was recognized as a Best Practice. Noteworthy practices listed include:
- Building upon a decade of growth and program refinement, the Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) Program has now reached well in excess of 500 high schools and more than half a million young people in Texas.
- By expanding to more and more schools, TDS has changed teen driving behaviors in a growing number of communities and states through a simple strategy: harness the power of positive peer influence. Launched in 2002, TDS is the first peer-to-peer program for teens that focuses solely on traffic safety and addresses all major risks for this age group.
- The qualities that set TDS apart are best pointed out by those who are directly involved in it: “It’s about us having each other’s back as friends” … “it’s part of our culture” … “when it’s peer-to-peer, it really does make a difference.”
- The program is saving lives because young people are driving the program. Every element, every facet, and every refinement of TDS is influenced by young people. The program’s professional staff provides support and direction when appropriate, but the teens are responsible for making it work. With active program elements for junior high school students all the way through college, the breadth of youth reached by the program is also unprecedented and unmatched.
- From its inception, TDS has been designed to be a grassroots effort to compliment good graduated driver licensing policy. A growing amount of data suggests that TDS is serving as a very effective solution when combined with GDL to bring about meaningful decreases in teen fatalities.
And, cites evidence of success:
- During 2012, a rigorous statistical analysis determined that Texas counties in which TDS was active have seen an average annual decrease in serious crashes (both injuries and fatalities) of approximately 15 percent.
- In addition, TDS has been determined to be a major factor in the 45 percent reduction in teen driver-involved fatal crashes in Texas over the past decade.
- Additional evidence of the program’s popularity and success is the program’s proliferation into other states, including Georgia, California, Connecticut, North Carolina and Montana. In these states, the number schools with active TDS programs is approximately 100.
Congratulations to our Teen Advisory Board, the teachers/sponsors, teen teams, and all Teens in the Driver Seat supporters for making this program a success!