News

Teen Traffic Fatalities up 22 Percent Last Year

Aug. 28, 2018 - CDOT Launches Teen Driving Safety Campaign Focused on Driving Restrictions


STATEWIDE—Last year, 67 young people between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed in traffic crashes in Colorado. This is a 22 percent increase from 2016—when 55 were killed—and the highest number of fatalities for that age group since 2008.

Teen drivers are among the most dangerous drivers on the road. To encourage them to drive more safely, CDOT is launching a safety campaign aimed at increasing awareness of Colorado's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program, foster adherence of GDL restrictions and ultimately save teen lives.

Colorado first adopted a GDL law in 1999, after a horrific crash in Greeley that killed four teenagers. The 16-year-old driver had just received his license. He had little experience driving when his friends jumped in his car, and he ran a stop sign.

GDL laws help teens gain important driving skills gradually while putting restrictions on the number of passengers permitted, banning cellphone use, setting a curfew and requiring driver education. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, half of all unintentional injury deaths for Coloradans between ages 5 and 24 are due to motor vehicle crashes.

"Teens face the greatest risk of crashing during the first year of their license," states CDOT Communications Manager Sam Cole. "One out of every five licensed 16 year olds will be in a motor vehicle crash. For 16 to 17 year olds, carrying just one passenger increases the crash risk by about 50 percent. That's why it's critical that teens follow the GDL laws starting from when they obtain their license."

The campaign will target teens, ages 15 to 18, who already have their driver's license, where they spend a lot of their time—on social media—including Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. The aim is to educate Colorado teen drivers on the three primary GDL issues, including number of passengers in the car, mobile phone distractions and seat belt safety.

To increase teen awareness of GDL laws, funny and informative videos called, "Teach Me How to GDL," illustrate the driving laws—everything from not using your cellphone to passenger restrictions.

"Colorado's Graduated Driver Licensing laws work," states Cpl. Ivan Alvarado of the Colorado State Patrol. "Since the restrictions went into effect in 1999, the number of teens killed in car crashes in Colorado has dropped by more than 50 percent. Since 2004, when GDL laws were strengthened to include passenger restrictions and nighttime curfews, there has been a 66 percent reduction in deaths of teens ages 15 to 19."

To kick off the launch of the campaign, a press event was held at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood on Tuesday, Aug. 28, where law enforcement, crash survivors, students and faculty congregated to address the issue of distracted driving. Marleigh Hanson, a senior at Green Mountain High School, talked about her experience as a crash survivor, after her mother who was driving hit a deer, which ended up totaling their car. Because they were both wearing seat belts, Marleigh and her mother only sustained minor injuries from the crash.

Students wore green ribbons to demonstrate their support for safe driving and signed banners as a pledge to not drive distracted. The campaign will run on social media through Sept. 23, 2018.

For more teen driving tips and resources, visit COTeenDriver.com.

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