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Medical, Insurance, Automotive and Safety Groups Call on Congress to Make This the "Last Deadly Summer for Teens" by Swiftly Passing Federal Teen Driving Safety Bill
Date:6/3/2009

Motor vehicle crashes are #1 killer of nation's teens; During summer months a disproportionate number of teens die in crashes.

WASHINGTON, June 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During this high school graduation season and at the start of the most dangerous road-travel season for teens on the nation's highways, a powerful coalition of medical, consumer, public health, safety, automotive, and insurance organizations delivered a letter today to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives urging quick passage of bi-partisan legislation (HR 1895) that would encourage all states to swiftly and uniformly adopt proven-effective model traffic safety laws to combat the number one cause of death and disabling injury of teens -- highway crashes.

The Safe Teen And Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act would establish minimum standards for state graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, which are proven to significantly reduce death and injury among young beginning drivers and those who share the road with them. The legislation is sponsored by U.S. Representatives Tim Bishop (D-NY), Michael Castle (R-DE), Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-MD), and James Moran (D-VA).

The letter from leaders of the 110-group Saferoads4teens coalition in support of the STANDUP Act comes at a critical juncture because the House will soon consider the multi-year, multi-billion-dollar federal surface transportation program. The coalition letter emphasized "the unacceptable death and injury toll of novice teen drivers as well as all of us who share the road with them" and stressed the need to "address this problem through prevention -- the most effective public health strategy to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce the medical and social costs of teen crashes."

GDL laws for novice teen drivers vary widely from state to state, which has resulted in an uneven patchwork of strong and weak state GDL laws with dangerous gaps that leave millions of teens in jeopardy and contribute to unnecessary deaths and injuries each year.

The STANDUP Act provisions are supported by extensive data and research showing the lifesaving benefits of effective GDL laws in saving teen lives. GDL laws are a proven method of preventing teen driving deaths and injuries and have been shown to achieve as much as a 40 percent drop in teen deaths and injuries.

Tragically, more than 7,500 people die annually in car crashes involving teen drivers, including nearly 5,000 teens themselves. For instance, in 2007 alone, the number of deaths in crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 20 was 7650. A disproportionate number of teen crashes occur during the summer months of June, July and August. Thousands of teens won't be returning to high school this year because of the enormous mortality and morbidity toll of motor vehicle crashes.

The STANDUP Act would provide three years of incentive grants to states that adopt the minimum GDL provisions required in the bill. If after three years any state does not meet the federal standards, a portion of the state's federal-aid highway funds will be withheld until the necessary laws are enacted. A similar strategy was used when President Reagan signed the National Minimum 21 Drinking Age Act and when President Clinton approved the .08 percent legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) law. Each time Congress has used this type of penalty, every state has enacted the law within the time frame allowed and no state lost any federal funds. As a result, both laws have saved thousands of lives.

The Saferoads4teens coalition letter pointed out that passage of the federal bill "will ensure that every teen in every state will benefit from the protection of an effective GDL law when getting behind the wheel of a car."

The letter concluded: "It is a rare occasion when one policy decision can have such a dramatic effect in matters of life or death, injury or health. (H)elp us save more teen lives, spare parents the tragic loss of a child, and prevent costly injuries that burden our health care system."

The organizations co-signing the letter to the U.S. House of Representatives today are listed below. For a copy of the Saferoads4teens coalition letter to Congress and for more information about the STANDUP Act and the teen driving safety issue, please visit: www.saferoads4teens.org.

Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

Allstate Insurance Company

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Emergency Physicians

American Family Insurance

American Insurance Association

American Public Health Association

Association of International Automobile Manufacturers

The Center for Injury Research and Prevention, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Consumer Federation of America

Emergency Nurses Association

Farmers Insurance Group of Companies

KidsAndCars.org

Liberty Mutual Group

Meharry Medical College

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

National Fire Protection Association

National Organizations for Youth Safety

National Safety Council

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company

State Farm Insurance

USAA


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SOURCE Saferoads4teens.org Coalition
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