Protecting Teens in a New Universe of Roadway Risk

Attorney Doug Horn has developed a series of driver safety initiatives that will provide both short and long term advances in teen driver protection. In the short-term, the goal is to reduce the types of teen driver collisions that cause serious injury and fatalities. In the longer-term, investment in keeping teen drivers safe will significantly improve the driving culture as young drivers cultivate better foundations in safe driving.

In this regard, Horn has developed a model driving safety campaign called Drive By Example. This campaign is designed to be a comprehensive driver safety initiative that will influence teen drivers to adopt the safe driving habits and behaviors that protect themselves, their passengers, and others on the road.

High Schools

While many high schools address teen driver protection on a limited basis, school districts would be wise in implementing a comprehensive driver safety campaign targeted to their high school(s). A well-designed, sustained driver safety campaign will both educate students in a safe driving approach and keep driving safety high on the student consciousness.

In this regard, the Drive By Example model campaign is a perfect fit for high school application because it:

  • Is built on a clear, concise, and memorable driver safety message;
  • Addresses all forms of dangerous driving, including the reduction of distracted, reckless, and impaired driving;
  • Emphasizes protection of the teen drivers and their passengers (instead of the consequences of dangerous driving);
  • Encourages higher driving standards, personal responsibility, and student leadership.

Also, because driver safety education is one of the most important aspects of driver development, Horn would like to see high schools add driver safety education as part of the student’s course requirements. While traditional “driver’s ed” is no longer feasible from a cost standpoint, driving safety education addresses a vital public safety concern and can be easily included within the high school’s health studies curriculum.

In order to assist high schools in gearing up to offer driver safety education instruction, Horn is developing a 10 week course that gives students a solid foundation in driver safety, including instruction on safe driving habits and behaviors, vehicle safety, emergency/accident procedures, and important aspects of automobile insurance.

Parent Resources

Please visit the Parent page on this site contains several of items of interest, including 10 parent tips and access to a “Driving Privileges Agreement”.

In 2015 Horn will be further bolstering his teen driver protection efforts by rolling out his parent engagement programs. Studies show that more parent engagement leads to a decrease in teen driver fatalities. Horn is not only reaching out to parent groups associated with the school, but also creating partnerships with other non-traditional driving safety stakeholders ( ie car insurance agents) to provide the teen driver’s parent(s) with information and resources that will allow them to better protect their child.

Horn is also encouraging parents of teen drivers to order the book “Not So Fast – Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving” The book was written by Tim Hollister. Tim is a practicing attorney who dedicated his book to his son Reid. Reid Hollister, age 17, was killed in a one-car crash in central Connecticut in 2006. The book is Tim’s effort to spare other parents the tragedy of losing a child in a roadway fatality.

Teen Driver Laws

Almost all states have special teen driver law, referred to as “Graduated Driver Licensing law” (GDL law), which govern the process of the licensing of first-time drivers. While states do have different specific requirements, generally most laws outline a process between the ages of 15-18 that must be met before a first-time teen driver can receive his or her full license.

Because parents are the chief enforcers of GDL law, Horn is advocating that the GDL law be strengthened to include heightened parent engagement in the licensing process. First, he is calling for parental education to be mandated by the GDL law. Parent education would afford parents the opportunity to learn specifics about the GDL process and the restrictions placed on teen drivers. Parent education classes would also enable the parents to learn tips for helping their teen become a safe driver.

Secondly, because recent studies show that teen drivers start their driving careers cautiously, but grow more careless over time, Horn wants the GDL laws amended so that they provide for a “parental endorsement” on the teen driver’s license. A “parental endorsement” would require the parent’s certification that they have been instructed and understand their role as the primary enforcer of the State GDL law. The certifying parent’s name and contact information would be on the license to identify to law enforcement and other parties that the holder of the license is driving under parental responsibility.

Statistics show that in states that require parent engagement, teen driver fatalities have decreased. Amendments to the GDL laws is a good first-step to reducing teen driver fatalities.