A number of teens gathered at the Tennessee Teen Institute (TTI) at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville to discuss the importance, and raise awareness of, teen and drunk driving car accidents in Tennessee.
The camp invited teens from ages 13- to 18-years-old from across the state, according to the Jackson Sun. About 350 teens spent the week at the camp participating in activities that aimed to explain the dangers of drinking and driving.
Our Tennessee personal injury attorneys understand that events like this are important in keeping our roadways safe. These drivers, teens and ones those who are impaired by alcohol, pose serious threats to motorists on our roadways. For this reason, the National Transportation Safety Board has placed both types of drivers on their “most wanted” list. This list targets these drivers and encourages government enforcement to reduce the risks of such traffic accidents.
“It’s really youth-driven and youth-led,” said Barry Cooper, director of JACOA, which helps organize TTI every year. “The student staff members work together, and they really make the camp.”
Teens are targeted at this camp because they are the most vulnerable on our roadways. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States. It is estimated that nearly 10 teens die on our roadways every day. This death rate is higher than for deaths related to cancer, gun violence or drugs among those in this age group.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 teen drivers were involved in fatal traffic accidents in 2009 alone in the United States. Nearly 200 teen drivers in Tennessee died on our roadways during that year.
To help reduce the risks of these fatal teen car accidents, the NTSB recommends that all states enforce a graduated drivers license (GDL) . Luckily, Tennessee is one step ahead and already enforces the system, according to the Department of Safety & Homeland Security.
Under Tennessee’s GDL program, a teen must complete the following steps to get a full, unrestricted driver’s license:
–Tennessee Learner Permit: A teen must be 15-years-old and pass a standard vision screening. They’re also required to pass the Class D knowledge exam. New drivers are required to show proof of school attendance/progress from a current Tennessee school or a letter from the school in your previous state that confirms your attendance and acceptable grade marks.
–Tennessee Intermediate Driver License: A driver can get this license when they turn 16-years-old. They must have had a valid learner permit for a minimum of 180 days and must have completed 50 hours of behind the wheel driving experience, which needs to include 10 hours of night driving. They must then pass another road skills test.
–Tennessee Unrestricted Driver Silence: After all of the above steps are completed and requirements met, a teen can then apply for their full, unrestricted license.
Although teens are not old enough to consume alcohol, it doesn’t mean that they won’t. This is why the camp focuses on intoxicated driving as well. Through the camp, students will learn that nearly 11,000 people were killed in these preventable car accidents in 2009 on U.S. roadways. Drunk driving accidents account for nearly a third of all traffic accident fatalities. It is estimated that someone dies every 48 minutes because of these accidents. Tennessee witnessed nearly 350 deaths on our roadways because of accidents that involved an intoxicated driver.
To help combat intoxicated driving accidents, the NTSB recommends that states follow these tips:
-Limit plea bargaining deals in court.
-Limit diversion programs.
-Conduct a number of sobriety checkpoints.
-Enforce administrative license revocation for those who either refuse to take or fail a sobriety test.
-Install ignition-interlock devices in the vehicles on those who have been convicted of drinking while driving.
-Use jail alternatives, such as dedicated jail/treatment facilities, home detention with electronic monitoring or intensive supervision probation.
“This is building future leaders for the state in prevention,” said Cooper. “Some of these kids now are social workers or getting master’s degrees and doing things. They’re taking what they learned and moving on.”