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Teen Safe Driving Awareness Week is Dec. 1-7

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, but the work of three moms whose teenage sons were killed in car crashes in 2002 has led to tougher driving laws aimed at 16 and 17 year-olds.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
By Patch Editor Leslie Yager 

Connecticut’s Teen Safe Driving Awareness week runs Dec. 1-7 and this year marks the 10th anniversary of this designation to remind teens, parents and their communities about the need for teen drivers and their passengers to be safe and use common sense when driving.

Three mothers whose teenage sons were killed in car crashes in 2002 championed this week of awareness in the hope of preventing crashes, injuries and deaths. They formed a group called !MPACT, also known as Mourning Parents Act.

As a result of tougher teen driving laws instituted in 2008 and aimed at 16 and 17 year-olds, a corps of safety advocates has arisen around the state, including members of !MPACT. Since 2002, driver deaths for 16 and 17 year-olds have dropped by 81 percent since the year their sons died.

“The leading cause of death for American teenagers is motor vehicle crashes,” said Gov. Malloy in a release. “We have passed several laws to combat reckless and distracted driving, but addressing the root of this problem – before tragedy occurs – requires teaching teen drivers about the dire consequences of irresponsible behavior behind the wheel."

School Visits, Printable Brochure

!MPACT has developed a teen driving safety program – that includes a printable brochure – in which members share their personal experiences in a powerful presentation that has proven success in promoting safe driving and riding behavior in teens. 

Teens learn about the shocking statistics, risk factors, what happens to the body in a crash, what the states are doing to protect them and what they can do to protect themselves and their friends.

“We must be consistent, even aggressive, on the issue of instilling the right driving habits in our youngest drivers," James Redeker, DOT Commissioner said in a release. 

"This dual educational and enforcement effort underscores the seriousness with which we take this issue," added Rekeker. "I commend !MPACT, Commissioner Currey, AT&T and the Travelers for keeping our message at the top of the minds of teen drivers.”

AT&T is a partner with both DOT and DMV in public awareness efforts and Travelers is the co-sponsor of DMV’s annual teen safe driving video contest.

Dr. Brendan Campbell, director of Pediatric Trauma at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Garry Lapidus, PA, director of CCMC’s Injury Prevention Center, were early partners with !MPACT. They  worked together in getting pediatric physicians across the state to address the issue during wellness office visits with teens and their parents.

“Sherry and her organization have done a tremendous job in making this a visible issue. We appreciate our partnership with !MPACT and the many good efforts that have come from it,” Dr. Campbell said.

Sherry Chapman, co-founder and president of !MPACT has seen many changes in the last decade. Her son, Ryan, 17, was killed when the teen driver of a car in which he was riding crashed in Hebron on December 7, 2002. 

"Thanks to the commitment of the DMV, combined with our efforts and those of other safety advocates in the state, Connecticut now has some of the most stringent laws in the country to protect teen drivers and their passengers," Chapman said.

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