Connecticut Marks National Teen Safe Driver Week

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WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) – In one second teen drivers behind the wheel can make a decision that can change the direction of their lives. That’s the message being spread across the state this week to remind teenagers that safety must always come first. A DMV-Travelers Teen Safe Driving Video contest is helping to reinforce that with the theme entitled “One Split Second.” Teens have been challenged to make a video about keeping safe by avoiding distracted driving that could hurt themselves and others.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in U.S. teenagers. In 2008, Connecticut adopted toughter teen driving laws to raise awareness and reduce crashes, injuries and deaths. The state has seen an 82-percent reduction in fatalities for 16 and 17 year-old drivers from a high of 11 in 2002 and to an average of two per year since the more stringent laws began.

Members of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Teen Advisory Board said the week is important for a variety of reasons, and encourages teens to play an active role in promoting safety behind the wheel. “One second represents when we make a driving decision, be it a good or bad one,” said Armani Nieves, a senior at Hall High School in West Hartford and member of the DMV Teen Advisory Board. “It only takes one second to be a good or bad driver.” Maggie Silbo, a junior at Mercy High School and a member of the teen advisory board, said teen drivers can lead by example in many ways. “To be safe drivers, teens should follow the rules of the road, such as not talking or texting on the phone, obeying the posted speed limits and following the passenger restriction laws,” Silbo said. Angela Zhu, a senior at Cheshire High School, said teenagers can play an active role as responsible passengers.

“It’s all about awareness,” said Zhu, also a member of the DMV Teen Advisory Board. “All it takes is one small sentence. If you really care about your friends, simply tell them to put down the phone.”

The DMV Teen Advisory Board also came up with the theme for this year’s DMV-Travelers Teen Safe Driving Video contest. “I believe it is crucial to promote the message of safe driving for teens, especially as there are even more distractions on the road today,” said Kojo Appiah, a senior at Xavier High School in Middletown and a member of the DMV Teen Advisory Board. “This video contest is an exciting activity that teens can do with your peers while learning the life lessons and responsibilities of being a safe driver.”

DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra said this week is a great time for parents to review the state’s teen driving laws (http://ct.gov/teendriving/laws) and create a safe driving agreement (http://1.usa.gov/1MA7miP) with their teens.

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