Ellicott, MD – October 24, 2019 – Students at Howard High School got a firsthand look at the dangers of riding in a vehicle without a seat belt during a demonstration of a rollover simulator today at the Ellicott City school. Hosted by the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office (MHSO), the demonstration was part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 20-26. Each year, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens age 15 to 18. The nationwide safety campaign urges parents to discuss the importance of safety with new drivers, and encourages students to remind their peers and friends to buckle up in every seat, every time.
“Because of their lack of experience, teen drivers are at a greater risk on our roads,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “Obtaining a driver’s license is an exciting milestone, but the most important thing for new drivers is getting themselves and their passengers safely to their destinations – work, home, the big game or the school homecoming dance. This week is a time for parents and teachers to have a conversation about the importance of safe driving behaviors.”
MDOT MVA debuted its new rollover simulator, which demonstrates the importance of properly wearing a seat belt. Crash dummies are placed in a pickup truck without seat belts and a rollover crash is simulated. Thursday’s event was held in the school parking lot during school lunch period, allowing students to attend the demonstration and see the results of not being properly restrained.
At Howard High School, the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) is also participating in Making It Click, an MHSO peer-led program that advocates 100 percent seat belt usage among young drivers and passengers. In its third year, Making It Click uses posters, videos, flyers, morning announcements and pledge cards to promote good decision-making behind the wheel. The following 29 Maryland schools, including all 12 Howard County public high schools, are participating this year:
- Anne Arundel County – Southern High School;
- Baltimore County – Hereford High School;
- Calvert County – Calvert High School;
- Frederick County – Frederick County Career & Technology Center;
- Garrett County – Northern Garrett County and Southern Garrett County high schools;
- Harford County – Edgewood, Fallston, Joppatowne and North Harford high schools and Harford Technical School;
- Howard County – Atholton, Centennial, Glenelg, Hammond, Howard, Long Reach, Marriotts Ridge, Mount Hebron, Oakland Mills, Reservoir, River Hill and Wilde Lake high schools and the Homewood Center;
- Prince George’s County – Samuel Massie Academy and Tall Oaks High School;
- Queen Anne’s County – Kent Island High School;
- Somerset County – Crisfield High School.
National data shows that seat belt use tends to be lower among teen drivers. Correctly wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent. Officials also addressed the most dangerous and deadly driving behaviors for teen drivers: alcohol, distracted driving, speeding and driving with passengers.
“We know teens are excited about the independence that driving brings, but it’s important that we give them good guidance before handing over the keys,” said Howard County Police Chief Lisa Myers. “It’s not enough for us to enforce the law, we hope for a collaborative effort to start and continue conversations about the deadly consequences of unsafe driving practices to keep teens safe behind the wheel.”
Self-reported surveys show that teens whose parents set firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers tips on how parents can talk about safe driving behaviors with their teens and outlines the basic rules parents can use to help reduce the risks for teen drivers. That information can be found at nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.
For more information on MDOT MVA Highway Safety Office’s Zero Deaths Maryland campaign, visit zerodeathsmd.com or find us on Facebook at @zerodeathsmd, on Twitter at @zerodeathsmd, and on Instagram at @zerodeathsmd. Those interested in hosting the rollover simulator at a school or community event may contact the MHSO Occupant Protection Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.