Teens in the Driver Seat recently appeared in USA Today in a special report section: Strategies aimed at reducing deaths among young motorists. In the report, Russell Henk, Teens in the Driver Seat Program Director, was interviewed and the paper visited Houston’s Cypress Falls High School to see teens in action as they spread safe driving messages.
The peer-to-peer messaging approach is largest in Texas, through Teens in the Driver Seat program schools and has seen great results, including a 14% drop in teen fatal and injury crashes compared to areas without the program. Fatal crashes involving 16- to 19-year old in Texas has dropped every year since 2002 – the only state where that has occurred.
Parents, like Loly Valdez of Houston, are also relying on the Teens in the Driver Seat program to deliver the same messages teens receive at home. The peer messaging lets teens know it’s not just mom or dad telling a driver what to do, but friends also telling each other to wear their seat belt, be careful at night, not drink and drive, avoid texting, and slow down.
Becky Denton, Cypress Falls Principal tells the paper, “You might hear one of them say, ‘I’m the designated texter.’ Seeing the kids really take this and own it is one of the nicest things to watch.” This approach of building a “culture of safety” is what Teens in the Driver Seat strives for.
Teens in the Driver Seat has reached more than 500,000 Texas teens and has also been adopted in over 40 Georgia high schools, 10 Johnson County, North Carolina schools and six schools in Connecticut.