During National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 20 - 26), officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) are asking teen motorists to be safety-conscious – while reminding parents and adult sponsors about the crucial role they play in enforcing and modeling safe driving behaviors.

Last year, in Wisconsin, 29 teenagers (ages 16 - 19) were killed and 4,342 injured in traffic crashes. Teenagers account for less than 5 % of all licensed drivers in Wisconsin – yet are involved in nearly 10 % of all traffic crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old in the US. In 2017, there were 2,247 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver (15-18 years old), of which 755 deaths were the teen driver — a 3 % decrease from 2016. According to NHTSA, there were an estimated 93,000 teen drivers injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2017 and 293,000 people injured in crashes involving a teen driver — accounting for about 11 % of all those injured that year.

Officials with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Division of State Patrol say several factors lead to the over-representation of teenagers in crashes:

· The main factor is they simply lack driving experience. They need time to learn about the various conditions and situations that can make driving a challenge.

· Teen drivers tend to take more risks. Speeding, failure to wear seat belts and impaired driving are among the risky behaviors. Teens often under-estimate driving dangers, and over-estimate their driving abilities.

· Teens are easily distracted by electronic devices or other passengers.

Studies strongly support the beneficial role of parental supervision in reducing teen crash rates, instances of distracted driving and driving under the influence while increasing seatbelt usage.

WisDOT’s DMV offers innovative toolsThe DMV offers several tools to help parents and guardians foster safe and responsible teen driving habits. The online Motorists Handbook provides a comprehensive understanding of the operational rules for the road and is available in a variety of downloadable formats.

DMV has partnered with West Bend Mutual Insurance to provide the Parent’s Supervised Driving Program guidebook, an award-winning free resource, to students who receive their learner’s permit. The guidebook discusses 13 important driving skills, includes a parent-teen driving contract and a Supervised Driving Log that helps parents tally hours behind the wheel.

Since most teens live on their phones, Wisconsin DMV offers several mobile apps:

· RoadReady mobile app provides parents and guardians a way to log the state-required supervised driving time with the click of a button.

· Wisconsin DMV Driver Practice Knowledge Test reviews driving laws to help drivers check themselves before taking the knowledge portion of the driving test.

Other online resources available 24/7 include:

- Driver License Guide which offers a checklist of what to bring to the DMV.

- DMV Locator to help find the nearest DMV for scheduling a road driving test.

- Guidelines for Motorists including important safety reminders if stopped by law enforcement.

- WisDOT YouTube videos on a variety of safety-related topics.

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