A report released last month by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that fatal traffic crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers were higher nationwide during the first six months of 2012 than during the first six months of 2011.
While I am sad to hear this, I am thrilled to read that Florida experienced a decrease in these tragic crashes. Florida and North Carolina were the only two states to see a decrease in 2012 after posting some of the highest fatality numbers in 2011. We should be proud of our efforts to protect teens who drive. However, our work is far from over.
Florida’s teen driving laws must be strengthened. We must prohibit teens from carrying any passengers, including siblings, during the first year of licensure, and we must require teens be off the roads no later than 10 p.m. — earlier is better. According to the 2011 License to Save report issued by The Allstate Foundation, Florida could save more than 180 additional lives a year by strengthening its teen driving laws. That’s at least 180 families that could be spared the pain of losing a child in a preventable crash.
I lead the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, which the National Safety Council and The Allstate Foundation established to bring attention to this issue by educating parents, teens, lawmakers and others about why teen drivers crash and how to best protect them. I encourage those interested in this issue to get involved. Our most vulnerable drivers need our help.
Danielle Branciforte, leader, Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition