CDOT launches new teen safety campaign |

CDOT launches new teen safety campaign

While the number of young drivers involved in fatal crashes has fallen considerably over the past 20 years, there has been a spike in teen fatalities in the past two years, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The number of young drivers involved in fatal crashes has fallen by almost 50% in the past two decades, but the trend recently has started to shift. From 2005 to 2016, Colorado averaged 64 teen traffic fatalities per year. In 2017 and 2018, the average jumped to 86, a 34% increase.

Because of the numbers, CDOT is set to launch a new safety campaign to encourage teens to drive more safely and help raise awareness of Colorado’s Graduated Driver Licensing law.

“When teens receive their driver’s licenses, the first year of driving is the most dangerous,” CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew said in a news release. “But our (Graduated Driver Licensing) law has contributed to a near 50% reduction in traffic fatalities involving young drivers over the last 20 years, which is very good news. We must continue to educate teens … and enforce the law if we want to continue to see such positive results.”

The law prohibits new drivers from traveling with passengers younger than 21 for the first six months with their license. Then one passenger younger than 21 is allowed after six months until the end of the first year. The law also bans the use of cellphones for drivers younger than 18 and makes not wearing a seat belt a primary traffic offense.

CDOT kicked off the safety campaign Thursday in Denver, with a number of safety advocates and law enforcement officers in attendance. The campaign, which includes videos to educate youths on the law, will run on social media through the first week in September. The campaign is meant to target drivers ages 15 to 18.

“Motor vehicle crashes are not caused by involuntary or inevitable mistakes,” Drive Smart of the Rockies executive director Amy Nichols said in the release. “Teens are as powerful as they are vulnerable because most teen crashes involve voluntary choices. By partnering with CDOT and promoting the … awareness campaign, we hope to save lives by decreasing teen driver deaths.”

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