Football, festivals, and fun with friends – just a few reasons our teens are so busy this fall. With more distractions than ever, we need to remind our young drivers about safe driving.
Despite Graduated License Law requirements, a 2012 MoDOT observational survey found only 66 percent of Missouri teens wear their seat belts. Remember, according to law, your new driver and all passengers must be buckled up. Last year alone, there were nearly 7,000 crashes in the city of Springfield.
So what’s the best way to survive a crash? Wear your seat belt. Mercy and Kohl’s have teamed up for the Kohl’s Rock Your Seat Belt campaign to provide seat belt safety education to students. Families can pick up window decals at their local Kohl’s, Mercy Clinic Pediatric office or by emailing MercyInjuryPreventionOffice@mercy.net. Seatbelt spotters will patrol middle schools, high schools and other locations. If a Kohl’s seatbelt spotter finds everyone buckled up, each person gets a Kohl’s gift card.
“From programs like our Kohl’s Rock Your Seat Belt campaign, to our Driving Lessons Program, a driver training program developed at Mercy to teach safe driving skills to students of all ages, we stay focused on providing education to help our teens make good decisions,” said Mark Peck, outreach coordinator for the Mercy Injury Prevention Center, an outreach effort of Mercy Trauma Services. “Every day we take care of people who choose not to wear a seat belt and we see firsthand how it affects the rest of their life.”
Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 20-26) provides a unique opportunity to focus attention on this national problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of fatalities among teenagers in the United States. In 2012, there were 64 teen vehicle occupants killed in Missouri traffic crashes, and 81 percent were unbelted. Eleven percent of the unbelted teens who were killed were also impaired drivers.
Under Missouri law, drivers 21 years old and younger are banned from texting while driving and can be fined up to $200 for this offense. Missouri also has a Zero Tolerance Law, meaning if anyone under 21 is caught driving with even a trace of alcohol in their system their license will be suspended.
As you get behind the wheel, please remember these simple safe driving tips: