Teen driver safety targeted by state

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 23, 2010

VIDALIA — Today marks the last day of National Teen Driver Safety Week, and Louisiana State Police Officers were in full force all week educating teens on the do’s and don’ts of driving.

“The whole goal of this week and the program is education and awareness,” Louisiana State Police Troop E Public Information Officer Senior Trooper Scott Moreau said. “We were just trying to make people aware of the problems that are there.”

According to reports from the LSP, from 2003 to 2008, 73 percent of teen vehicle occupants, ages 16-20, killed in motor vehicle crashes did not have a seat belt on at the time of the accident.

Email newsletter signup

This is a stat Moreau said he wants to change.

Moreau said education and awareness are keys to helping the national problem of poor seat belt usage.

“If people aren’t aware of the consequences, they aren’t going to do it,” he said. “The responsibility of informing teens on the importance of seat belt use falls on the whole community, not just the officers.”

Installing correct driving behavior in a teen is something Moreau said is critical in educating them about safety.

“Educators, older adults and mainly the parents need to show teens the importance of safety while driving,” he said.

Moreau said not wearing a seat belt kills more drivers than drinking and driving does.

“When you couple those two factors together, the stats get even higher,” he said.

Moreau said teens need to step up and be leaders when they get behind the wheel of a car.

“We don’t need followers,” he said. “If a teen is at the wheel, they need to step up and make sure everyone is buckled in before they drive.”

Moreau said he has been giving safety presentations to teens, and there is one story he tells that helps get the message to the students.

“I like to ask the audience how many people put shoes on that morning,” he said. “I tell them if you can take one minute to put on something that just protects your feet, you can surely take two or three seconds to put on a seat belt that protects your whole body.”

One thing teens need to know is that driving is not an innate behavior, Moreau said.

“Driving is a physical behavior that takes time and practice to master,” he said. “A teen is not getting all of the experience when they drive and they haven’t physically developed all the way.”

Moreau said this lack of experience, along with trying to multitask causes many teen accidents.

“Texting, making a call or playing with the radio are all distractions,” he said.

Even though the teen safety week is over, Moreau said LSP officers are still going to be out looking for lawbreakers, regardless of age.

“Drivers without seat belts, impaired drivers and aggressive drivers are the ones causing the fatalities,” he said.

“This is nothing we don’t do already throughout the year.”