In 2009 there were 84 fatalities of drivers ages 15 to 20 in Arkansas. Motor vehicles crashes are the #1 cause of death among teenagers (NHTSA). In Arkansas, the fatality and injury rates of teen drivers are twice the national rate. Specifically, nearly 1,459 teenagers were killed or injured in 2009. In addition to the lives lost, the yearly estimated expense on motor vehicle crashes is $2 billion dollars in Arkansas (Advocates for Highway Safety). Contributing factors to teen crash statistics include inexperience, easy distractibility, and driving at night.
During the 2009 legislative session Arkansas expanded its Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. The GDL law addresses teen driving issues by helping new drivers gain experience in lower-risk conditions. In other states, comprehensive GDL programs have been a proven success by reducing teen fatalities and injuries by up to 38%.
The AHSO will work with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Arkansas Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Center, the Allstate Foundation Teen Driving Program and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids to expand the ―Building Consensus for Safer Teen Driving Project‖. This project works to increase physician influence of motor vehicle safety for teen drivers and passengers, increase the use of graduated driving principles within families of young drivers, and increase grass roots awareness of motor vehicle safety risks for young drivers and passengers.