Teen Safe Driving

 

Pediatricians are among America’s most-trusted allies for information on children’s health.  Now they are lending their expertise to address a public health crisis affecting thousands of families—teen driving deaths.  The Allstate Foundation and eight chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), chosen through competitive proposals, have joined forces to combat this epidemic and educate communities on the importance of stronger graduated driver licensing laws.  The AAP recommends that states adopt, improve and enforce these laws for teen drivers.

The Illinois Chapter is pleased to be one of the recipients of the Teen Safe Driving Grant.  Because Illinois already has a strong graduated licensing law, state and private agencies active in teen driving safety, and an AAP chapter with advocacy experience and partnerships, we are poised to integrate pediatric providers into the issue and take promotion of teen driving safety to the next level.  The project will continue to advance policy initiatives at the state level via legislation and the media while also engaging pediatricians in diverse community level activity on teen driving safety, particularly for the 12-15 year old “pre-permit” age.  We will accomplish the latter by educating pediatricians about the issue and helping them form relationships with other sectors using a common set of tools and strategies.

This multi-pronged approach will create strong partnerships among the medical community, educators, community groups, and families; stimulate commitments and action among health care providers; develop an infrastructure to promote excellent, existing resources; and pilot models for change in practices.  The program will advance these goals:

  • policy changes will be pursued by identifying potential policy initiatives on teen driving safety, identifying and convening advocates for input, creating a statewide teen driving policy agenda, securing endorsements, and promoting the agenda to media and legislators;
  • practice systems change will be accomplished via online resources for pediatricians, family physicians and staff which provides general information, Illinois-specific resources, tools for practice change, and strategies for facilitating community connections; and
  • coordinated community action will better engage pediatricians and other providers in school and community activity as partners, advocates, and spokespeople.

The Academy released its first policy statement recommending Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws in 1996 in response to the high number of fatalities and injuries among teen drivers. As a result of over 15 years of pediatric advocacy, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have a 3-tiered Graduated Licensing System for teen drivers. These include a learner’s permit, an intermediate or provisional license, and a full-privilege driver’s license. Unfortunately, the strength of these laws varies widely, with some states adopting more stringent provisions than others in specific areas such as the number of required hours of supervised behind-the-wheel training and restrictions on night time driving, teenage passengers, and mobile phone use. (For a full description of recommended provisions and state-by-state requirements, click here.) Currently no state has a law that meets all the AAP recommendations for teen driving safety.  To review Illinois’ laws, please click here.  In Illinois each year, there are approximately 922,000 teens between the age of 15 and 19 and another 879,000 between the ages of 10 and 14.  Approximately 67% of teens 19 and younger are licensed or permitted drivers and this age group accounts for approximately 8.2% of all drivers in Illinois. Although the total of number of crashes involving drivers between 16 and 20 was reduced by 28% from 2006 to 2010, these drivers still account for a disproportionate 11.8% of accidents.

The Illinois Chapter’s program, Illinois Physicians Advocating for Awareness of Driving Safety (IPAADS) will target multiple groups: teens and pre-teens engaged in school/community safe driving programs and being seen by primary care providers; primary care providers throughout Illinois who see adolescent patients; and advocacy organizations.    IPAADS project leaders will educate physicians, nurse practitioners and support staff throughout the State, to incorporate safe driving messages into regular office visits beginning with the mandated 6th grade school physical exam and additional visits through age 18.  Annual well child visits, the 9th grade mandated school exam and yearly athletic physicals will provide many opportunities for education on safe driving and the graduated licensing system by primary care providers.

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For more information or to become involved, contact:

Jennie Pinkwater
Senior Project Director, Prevention Programs and Advocacy
Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
1400 W. Hubbard St. Suite 100
Chicago IL 60642
P: 312/733-1026 x 213
jpinkwater@illinoisaap.com