March 7, 2003
Chrysler Group funds American teen safe driving initiative
Auburn Hills, Michigan – Six out of ten American parents say driving safety is a top
concern when it comes to their teens – far outranking fears such as pregnancy,
suicide, and drug and alcohol abuse, according to a new survey commissioned by the
Chrysler Group. Overwhelmingly, parents say they know their teen drivers engage in
unsafe driving behavior. To help parents protect new teen drivers, Chrysler Group
and leading national safety organizations are developing a research-based teen
driving safety initiative called Road Ready Teens.
“The research behind the Road Ready Teens guidelines has been shown to reduce crash
risk by nearly one-third,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, President and CEO, Chrysler
Group. “Nine out of ten parents say they would put a home-based teen driving safety
program into practice. Road Ready Teens will make parents aware of the nature of the
risks and give them the knowledge and tools to better protect their families.”
A Chrysler Group survey found that more than two-thirds of parents know their
inexperienced teenage driver drives with multiple teen passengers, and drives late
at night. NHTSA data show that 63 percent of the teen deaths in 2001 happened with
multiple teen passengers in the vehicle, and more than half of teen crashes occur at
night, even though the vast majority of teen driving occurs during daylight hours.
Also, the data show that teenagers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than
older drivers to be involved in a crash and many of these crashes occur on weekends.
Nearly 5,000 teenagers ages 16 to 19 are killed and another 300,000 are injured each
year in traffic crashes in the U.S. — far eclipsing any other cause of death.
There are three basic levels in the Road Ready Teens recommendations: the Learner’s
Permit level, the New Driver level and the Full Driver level. During the Learner’s
Permit level, parents are encouraged to make sure a teen driver completes a
certified driver’s education course and an additional 30 to 50 hours of supervised
driving over those required by a driver’s education course before getting a license.
During the New Driver level, which begins after the Learner’s Permit level and lasts
at least six months but is encouraged to last until the new driver is 18, it is
recommended that parents do the following: limit unsupervised driving after 9 or 10
p.m. (exempt activities such as traveling to and from work) and limit the number of
teenage passengers a teen can drive with to no more than one. Parents also should
implement a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use and insist that teens and
their passengers always wear seat belts.
Joining Chrysler Group in Road Ready Teens are the National Safety Council (NSC) and
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) is providing technical support and lending its expertise for
research and material development. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
also is providing technical support. “We are extremely pleased to have the support
of these organizations with recognized expertise in the field,” added Dr. Zetsche.