The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) President's Award, one of the nation's highest traffic safety honors, was awarded to the Utah Teen Driving Task Force for its Don't Drive Stupid program for positively impacting highway traffic safety. UDOT executives accepted the award at the 2009 AASHTO Annual Meeting held last week in Palm Desert, Calif.
The Utah Teen Driving Task Force consists of UDOT, the Utah Department of Public Safety, the Utah Department of Health, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and several other state and county organizations across the state. Don't Drive Stupid is the teen component of Utah's Zero Fatalities program, which aims to reduce the top five behaviors that are killing people on Utah's roads: driving drowsy, distracted, aggressive, impaired and not buckling up.
"It has been rewarding to develop and implement this program with the help of our partners," said John Njord, UDOT executive director. "Our goal was to influence teens and their behaviors to drive consciously and safely and the program has worked tremendously. There has been a significant drop in teen fatalities in Utah since the introduction of the Don't Drive Stupid program."
Recent crash statistics show that teenage drivers represent eight percent of the licensed drivers in Utah, yet they were involved in more than a quarter (26 percent) of all motor vehicle crashes. By creating a Teen Driving Task Force comprised of more than a dozen organizations across Utah, the grassroots outreach effort reached a new level of progress in creating a safer driving environment for teens in Utah. After the first year, fatalities among 16-19 year olds dropped 42 percent.
Some of the Teen Driving Task Force accomplishments include:
More than 100 presentations in high school driver education and health classes across the state.
High school assemblies with teens and parents.
Educational outreach activities during high school lunch breaks.
Numerous presentations at community/county safety fairs.
Presentations to all local health departments across Utah.
Multiple press events about teen driving at high schools.
DVD about texting while driving.
Memoriam book about teens who died on Utah's roads.
Breakout sessions at the Utah Driver Ed Conference.
Don't Drive Stupid Web site (www.DontDriveStupid.com).
The Sun Advocate has been part of this campaign by allowing one of the paper's delivery trucks to be wrapped with advertising concerning the campaign since last spring.