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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 18, 2015
GOVERNOR'S TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMITTEE URGES NEW YORK'S YOUNG PEOPLE TO PLAY IT SAFE THIS GRADUATION SEASON AND SUMMER
GTSC Releases Youth Traffic Safety Toolkit and OASAS Releases New Talk2Prevent Website for Parents as Graduation Season and Summer Get Underway
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today announced that resources are available to help young people stay safe as graduation season gets into full swing including free toolkits to help young drivers, and a brand new website recently launched by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (NYS OASAS) that gives parents the tools to talk to their children about the risks of underage drinking.
"One life lost on graduation weekend is one too many," said Department of Motor Vehicles Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. "There are a number of resources offered by state agencies that parents, youth and educators can take advantage of to learn how to play it safe this graduation season and summer."
"Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the U.S. and underage and binge drinking can pose serious health and safety risks to our young people," said NYS OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. "Parents can be the number one influence when it comes to their child's behavior, especially related to underage and binge drinking. Parents should visit the Talk2Prevent website for tips on how to talk to their teens about the health risks and dangers of underage drinking and how to keep the conversation going. Their kids will listen."
Each year teenage drivers are fatally injured or left with lifetime disabilities from motor vehicle crashes that are preventable. Regrettably, many of these crashes occur in the months preceding graduation or in the summer months after graduation, which can devastate the school population and negatively impact the local community.
GTSC implements a number of programs and activities targeting teen drivers, including the production of a Younger Driver Tool Kit that serves as a one stop resource center of materials useful to traffic safety partners who work with new and young drivers. GTSC also recently released a free poster for schools and educators called "The Empty Chair." Part of its "Cops Care" program, the poster encourages youth across New York State to take the proper precautions to be in their chair during graduation. To obtain the poster, please contact the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee by phone 518-474-5777 or by email dmv.sm.SROtrafficsafetytoolkit@dmv.ny.gov.
A number of factors contribute to car crashes among youth, including distracted driving, failure to yield the right of way, following too closely, driving at unsafe speeds, and alcohol and other drug impairment. All of these factors are magnified due to the fact that newly licensed teen drivers are dramatically less experienced. The number of fatalities in crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 17 dropped from 33 in 2012 to 24 in 2013. Seventy-five percent of the fatalities in crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 17 occurred within the upstate region, while 21 percent occurred on Long Island and four percent took place in New York City.
A parent's disapproval of underage drinking is the number one reason young people choose not to drink alcohol. However, nearly 52 percent of New York students in grades 7-12 reported that their parents had never talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking, according to OASAS' most recent Statewide Youth Development Survey. Survey results also revealed that most young people who consume alcohol do it in their own home or in the home of a friend.
OASAS, an integral member of the GTSC, recently introduced Talk2Prevent.NY.GOV, a new website that gives parents tools to talk to their children about the risks of underage drinking. As high school graduations and graduation parties take place across the state during the beginning of the summer season, the new Talk2Prevent website offers a tool kit for parents to guide them in talking to their children about the risks of underage drinking and how to stay safe.
The site's toolkit for parents includes conversation starters, ways to text your child about keeping safe, a list of warning signs for underage drinking, and an agreement that both parent and child can sign to establish a clear understanding of family rules around underage drinking. Parents can also visit the Talk2Prevent Facebook page to join a community of parents and share resources and messages with other parents.
For more information about the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and its partners, please visit www.safeny.ny.gov.