Crash Survivor Tells His Story to Reach Teens Across Colorado

April 3, 2012 - TRAFFIC SAFETY - Colorado Department of Transportation and AAA Colorado sponsor Tyler Presnell Teen Driving Safety Tour.

DENVER -- After 22 surgeries, two stints on life support and six weeks in a coma, Tyler Presnell is in Colorado to share his story with teenagers to keep them from making the same mistake he did.

Presnell was invited by the Colorado Department of Transportation, AAA Colorado and the state’s Regional Emergency and Trauma Advisory Councils (RETACS) to talk to teens about being safe drivers and responsible passengers, as well as empowering them to make choices that could save their lives. Presnell’s Colorado tour goes through 18 communities, stopping at 23 high schools to reach 15,000 students throughout the month of April.

Presnell, now 27, took the brunt of a 70-mph crash into a telephone pole when he was 14 years old, living in Washington state.  The teen driver he was with had just gotten his license.  Presnell nearly lost his life, but now travels around the county speaking about the collision that changed him both physically and emotionally. He describes the challenges of his lifelong recovery and what it's like to live each day with over 80 percent of his short-term memory gone.

“I don’t remember very much of my life,” said Presnell. “If I had a chance to do over, I would have spoken up about my fear and found another ride home. Since I can’t change what happened, I can only hope that my story inspires someone else to think twice before jumping into the car of a newly licensed teen driver.”

In Colorado, it is against the law for teen drivers to have any passengers under age 21 for the first six months of their license, and then only one passenger under 21 for the second six months. The passenger restrictions are part of Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws that were designed to help teens gradually develop important driving skills without distractions. The laws also include a ban on cell phones, as well as a nighttime driving restriction after midnight, and every passenger must wear seat belts. Since the first Colorado GDL laws went into effect in 1999, the number of teens killed in traffic crashes in Colorado has dropped nearly 60 percent.

“AAA has worked for more than 75 years to help families develop their teens into safe, responsible drivers,” said Tony DeNovellis, president of AAA Colorado.  “Many crashes are 100 percent preventable.  That’s why understanding the facts and risks associated with driving is so important to teens.”

“We’ve seen a considerable decline in the number of teen fatalities in Colorado, but tragically there were still 40 young people killed last year,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT.  “We believe Tyler can reach students in a way that we can’t, and perhaps save more lives. We can share the alarming facts and statistics with teens, but Tyler has the ability to help them really see the reality of their risks and the choices they have to make as new drivers or passengers.”

To encourage safe driving and promote the information and resources on state’s teen driving website, all Colorado teens age 15-19 are invited to give some safe driving advice by filling out a short survey at  A winner will be chosen in May to receive an Apple iPad donated by Huddle and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

For more information on Colorado teen driving safety and laws, please visit or visit  Keys2Drive (, a AAA website to help parents and teens through the learning-to-drive process.

Tyler Presnell Teen Driving Safety Tour Schedule

This tour is not open to the public

Members of the media must confirm their attendance in advance



High School

April 2


West Grand HS

April 2


Middle Park HS

April 3


Silver Creek HS

April 4


Conifer HS

April 4


Dakota Ridge HS

April 5


Eagle Valley HS

April 6


Smokey Hill HS

April 6


Endeavor Academy

April 9


North HS

April 9


West HS

April 10


Rangeview HS

April 10

Fort Collins

Poudre HS

April 12


Pueblo West HS

April 13


Edison HS

April 16

Colorado Springs

James Irwin Charter HS

April 17

Woodland Park

Woodland Park HS

April 18


Sierra Grande HS

April 19

Pagosa Springs

Pagosa HS

April 19


Bayfield HS

April 19


Ignacio HS

April 23


Cortez HS

April 24


Delta HS

April 27


Fruita HS