General Motors has again let teens know they care about their safety behind the wheel with a continuation and expansion of their grant to Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Teens in the Driver Seat® (TDS) Program.
This will be the second year of partnering and will support ongoing outreach efforts in Texas, where TDS was born, as well as Georgia, California, and Colorado. The grant will also help TDS continue outreach in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Tennessee and will provide new programming support in Kentucky, New York, and Arizona.
The objective of all YTS program elements is to leverage the influence peers have with each other to increase awareness of the primary teen driving risks or behaviors — distraction caused by electronic devices and other young passengers, driving at night/driver fatigue, speeding, lack of seat belt use, and driving impaired by alcohol and/or other drugs — as well as their inexperience in the driving environment and how to take action to protect themselves.
The effectiveness of the TDS program in raising teen awareness of the top driving risks, seat belt and cell phone use, and transporting their peers, along with the program’s impact on reducing the frequency of teen driver crashes was assessed through peer-reviewed research conducted by Texas A&M Transportation Institute staff. The analysis found significant gains in awareness and reductions in risky behaviors, along with a nearly 15 percent reduction in teen driver crashes (Geedipally et al., 2012). As a result, TDS has been honored with numerous national awards and recognized as a best safety practice for over a decade.
One of the hallmarks of the program is capturing measurable outcomes to demonstrate the effectiveness of its sponsors’ investments. For the GM grant, the short-term outcomes are to
- Increase the awareness and knowledge of effective vehicle and road safety practices;
- Increase teen knowledge of teen traffic safety issues, methods and resources;
- Increase the rates of observed teen seat belt use; and
- Decrease the rates of teens driving while using electronic devices, such as cellphones.