Wolf Administration Hosts Roundtable Discussion with Teens on Safe Driving

During a face-to-face forum at Red Land High School in Lewisberry today, representatives from the Pennsylvania departments of Transportation (PennDOT) and Education and Pennsylvania State Police, as well as local education and law enforcement representatives shared their collective driver safety knowledge with students from Red Land and Cedar Cliff high schools.

“Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kurt Myers. “Parents and teachers have an important role to play in helping new drivers establish safe driving habits.”

The forum was held to call attention to teen driver safety and share important information directly with teen drivers during the nationwide observance of Teen Driver Safety Week October 16-22, and gave students an opportunity to directly ask questions of the panel.

From 2017 to 2021, there were 81,364 crashes involving at least one 16- to 19-year- old driver in Pennsylvania, resulting in 480 fatalities. 66 percent of those crashes involved a teen driver driving too fast for conditions (25,721 crashes), driver inexperience (8,707), driver distraction (12,411) or improper/careless turning (13,092). There was a total of 53,673 crashes with one or more of these factors. 

The risk of a crash involving any of these factors can be reduced through practice, limiting the number of passengers riding with a new driver, obeying all rules of the road, and using common sense.

“Setting a good example in the driver’s seat is one of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver of a teen driver,” said Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. “Positive examples include eliminating distractions in the vehicle, obeying the speed limit, never driving while impaired, and remembering to buckle up every time.”

PennDOT suggests that parents consider the following recommendations to help their children become safe and responsible drivers:

  • Set a good example with your own driving habits.
  • Have regular conversations with your teen about safe driving skills before they get their learner’s permit.
  • Establish a parent/teen driving contract.
  • Ride with your teen occasionally after they receive their license to monitor driving skills.
  • Enforce observance of speed limits and other rules of the road.
  • Strongly encourage your teen to avoid distractions behind the wheel, such as talking or texting on their cell phone.
  • Limit the number of passengers they have in their vehicle. Limit the number of passengers they have in their vehicle.  State law prohibits 16- and 17-year-olds with a junior license from driving with more than one unrelated passenger under the age of 18 years old for the first six months.  After the first six months, a junior driver shall not drive a vehicle with more than three unrelated passengers under 18 years old.
  • Limit dawn, dusk, and nighttime driving until your teen gains more experience and enforce a curfew. Remember, state law prohibits 16- and 17-year-olds with a junior license from driving between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM
  • Gradually increase the amount of time/distance your teen is permitted to drive.

“Driving a car requires experience, skill, and undivided attention – all factors that improve with repetition and training,” said Acting Department of Education Secretary Eric Hagarty. “Through driver education training programs, teenage drivers receive valuable instruction that prepares them to get behind the wheel, keeping themselves, their passengers, and fellow drivers safe on the road.”

As part of ongoing efforts to educate and assist teen drivers, PennDOT invites teens, their parents, teachers, and others to share video messages on Instagram about the personal costs of a crash, close calls, and advice on avoiding crashes. Anyone can join in this important conversation by using the hashtag #PATeenDriver.