October 23, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces New Initiatives to Educate Teens About Safe Driving

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Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Hosts Two Events During National Teen Driver Safety Week to Engage Teens and Parents


GTSC Continues Partnership with New York State Public High School Athletic Association to Promote Safe Teen Driving Through Coaches Care Initiative


Recent Study Finds New York Safest State in the Nation for Teen Drivers


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new efforts to educate teens about safe driving as National Teen Driver Safety Week begins. The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles will host two events this week highlighting the importance of practicing safe driving habits and how it can save lives. Additionally, GTSC is continuing its partnership with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to engage students throughout the school year through the Coaches Cares program. A recent study ranked New York the top state in the nation for teen driver safety. 


"Learning proper driving habits can help prevent senseless tragedies and save lives," Governor Cuomo said. "Keeping our young people safe is a top priority, and New York is stepping up to help ensure new drivers are prepared to safely hit the road."


National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs from October 21 to 27, serves as a reminder to parents, teachers, coaches, and adult mentors, to talk to teens about important rules they need to follow to stay safe on the road.


The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee will hold a public forum today for parents and teens focused on understanding the provisions of the Graduated Driver License Law. The GDL places restrictions, such as nighttime driving rules and passenger limits, on drivers under 18-years-of-age who have a junior learner permit or junior driver license. The law is intended to provide time for young people to gain critical experience in various traffic scenarios in a safe and controlled manner. The event will be a town hall-style forum where GTSC staff explain the reasoning and supporting data behind GDL provisions and provide an opportunity for parents and their teens to ask questions.


The event will be held tonight at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County in Ballston Spa at 6:30 PM. 


The GDL is making a difference and helping to improve the safety of young drivers in the state. According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, the number of fatal crashes in New York from 2003 to 2017 involving drivers 16- and 17-years-of-age declined more than 80 percent, and personal injury crashes dropped 61 percent, during the same time frame. For more information on the GDL and other advice for teen drivers and parents, visit the Resources for Young Drivers, and Parent's Guide to Teen Driving pages on the DMV's website and the GTSC's Younger Driver Tool-Kit.


The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee will also hold an event Thursday, October 25, at the Union-Endicott High School, where students will participate in two activities that demonstrate the importance of proper seat belt safety. Students will participate in the Battle of the Belts, a fast-moving competition to show teens that buckling up, a potentially life-saving measure, only takes a second. During the competition, teams of four challenge one another to see who can buckle-up the fastest. The GTSC has developed an instructional Battle of the Belts video so that schools across the state can replicate this fun and educational activity. Also, students will use the Seat Belt Convincer, which allows the rider to experience the surprising amount of force generated in a low speed collision, emphasizing the significance of wearing a seat belt.


Union-Endicott is one of seven schools currently participating in the Coaches Care program, with more expected to join later this year. The GTSC has again teamed up with the NYS Public High School Athletic Association to enlist coaches across the state to highlight the importance of highway safety and New York's driving laws. Coaches provide guidance and instruction that help students succeed both on the field and the road.


Recently, a WalletHub study found New York was the top state in the nation for teen driver safety. The study analyzed the teen-driving environment in each of the 50 states using nearly two dozen key metrics, including number of teen driver fatalities and impaired-driving laws. 


In addition to getting the highest overall ranking, New York ranked top five in the following categories:


  • Fewest teen driver fatalities per teen population;
  • Fewest teen DUIs per teen population;
  • Lowest insurance premium increase after adding a teen driver; and
  • States with at least 5 optimal Graduated Driver License Law provisions


Focusing on teen driver safety is crucial because motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and seat belt use is lowest among the youngest driving population. In 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 2,082 teen drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes nationwide, and 58 percent of passengers killed in crashes involving teen drivers were not wearing seat belts.


Terri Egan, DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and Acting GTSC Chair, said, "Teens are less likely to engage in risky driving behaviors and be involved in crashes when parents and adult mentors, such as teachers and coaches, help them develop safe driving skills early on. Through our planned events and partnership with the Athletic Association, we are enlisting the people that teens look up to most to share our message and help them understand that a few simple steps can save lives."


Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director, said, "We are thrilled to partner with the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and the Coaches Care program. New York is the third largest state in the country in terms of student-athletes participating in high school athletics, and our goal is to keep all of them safe. The message about safe driving is one that cannot be repeated enough to the 500,000+ student-athletes in New York, and we are happy to be able to help spread that message."


Joshua Gannon, Director of Athletics, Physical Education & Health at Union-Endicott Central School District, said, "The Coaches Care Program is a fantastic way for adults who work on a daily basis with our kids to emphasize the importance of driving safely.  Teens have a lot on their plates these days and keeping them from driving distracted, reminding them to buckle seat belts at all times, and focusing on safe driving speed is an absolute vital life lesson that we as educators need to teach our kids." 


Marianne Angelillo, a parent advocate for driver safety from Skaneateles, NY and mother who lost her 17-year-old son Matthew in a drunk driving crash in 2004, said, "This week serves as an important reminder to parents and teens that our highways are only as safe as our drivers are healthy and wise. Be alert, sober, and avoid risky driving behaviors."


To learn more about the NYS DMV, visit dmv.ny.gov, or follow the DMV conversation online at Facebook and Twitter.


For more information about GTSC, visit safeny.ny.gov, or follow the GTSC conversation at Facebook and Twitter.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office