April was Distracted Driving Awareness month. As we begin the month of May, we enter the 100 deadliest days for young drivers. With the school year winding down, teens find themselves celebrating all the end of the year events such as graduation, prom, and having the ability to stay out later. Combining the inexperience of newer drivers, with the increased risk of young drivers being out more often, contributes to this deadly combination.

Young drivers often feel invincible and allow themselves to be placed in risky situations. This with their inexperience can lead to erratic behaviors, lack of confidence, or overcorrecting. The past few months, members of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Walmart, Banner Health, Look Save A Life, the Pima County Health Department, Impact Teen Drivers, and AZTroopers (the Arizona State Troopers Association) have been combining their resources to make an impact of teens in Southern Arizona.

The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit at DPS has teamed up with Walmart to bring a Tractor Trailer to schools so students can get in the cab and see all the blind spots around the Semi. This allows young drivers to be more aware of their position when traveling in and around semis on the interstate. Young drivers assume the semi drivers can see and fail to recognize most of the time, the driver can’t see them with the mirrors that are required by law. Students gain a new awareness when driving near the larger vehicles. Troopers from the Highway Patrol Division, have spent time educating students on the restrictions of driver’s licenses, and what to expect from a traffic stop. Local resources available like the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Foundation START program allows young drivers to get hands on experience from Law Enforcement Driving Instructors in the Tucson area.

The Pima County Health Department and Banner Health have been instrumental in providing information related to injury prevention, seatbelt usage, properly installing car seats, and the overall health of young drivers. The health department has a number of programs and studies happening in local schools. Since Distracted Driving is the number one reason of death in young people, and it is preventable schools are often eager to allow us the opportunity to share either through their health classes or through their public safety education classes. Local on-profit groups like LOOK SAVE A LIFE allows victims of distracted driving to share their story and the steps they’ve had to take to recover from their injuries after being struck by a car with a distracted driver while riding their bicycle.

Attached are pictures from recent events in the Tucson area where collaboration efforts have provided engaging education opportunities to empower young people to make good decisions every time they get in a vehicle. Although May through the first part of August is usually the most deadly for young drivers, we want to encourage our teens to make good decisions every time they get in a car either as a driver or passenger. Make a commitment today to drive without distractions. Visit aztroopers.org/impact-teen-drivers and take the pledge to be safe every time you’re in a vehicle. More information can be found at whatslethal.com.

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