ST. PAUL, Minn. — Parents of teen drivers are the focus of a new Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety education program that aims to teach parents the important role they play in developing safer teen drivers.
The Point of Impact program will be made available to communities and driver’s education schools statewide with the primary purpose to bring parents into the driver’s education classroom with their teens for a one-night course. Driver’s education instructors, local law enforcement officers, EMTs and others help present the program.
A main component of Point of Impact is an 8-minute video that presents stories of Minnesotans impacted by crashes that involved teen drivers: a young woman from Detroit Lakes who suffered a serious brain injury; a woman left paralyzed from a crash years ago when she was 15 years old; and a Mankato police officer whose father was seriously injured in a crash involving a teen asleep at the wheel. Watch the video at http://youtu.be/jOkVMa3g5gQ or download a broadcast quality file at https://www.dropbox.com/s/w762bu9mmw8rnfm/Point-of-Impact-wmv-video.wmv.
“We need to break the mindset of parents that a newly licensed teen driver is a safe driver,” says Gordy Pehrson, DPS Office of Traffic Safety youth driving programs coordinator. “The Point of Impact program educates parents that the safety of their teen behind the wheel is up to them. Our goal is to make parents aware that while it may be convenient for their teen to drive themselves, that convenience can’t be put ahead of safety.”
Among the key points Point of Impact stresses are for parents to:
- Provide significant supervised driving training, and continue to do so after they are licensed, especially during the potentially dangerous first year of licensure.
- Train teen on a variety of road types (city, highway, rural) and conditions (night, snow, rain).
- Reinforce teen driving laws such as belt use (front and back seats); passenger and nighttime driving limitations; no cell phone use; and no texting/email/Web access (including when stopped in traffic).
- Use a driving contract to set family driving rules and follow through with consequences.
- Encourage teen to speak up when they feel unsafe in a vehicle to stop unsafe driving behaviors.
Traffic crashes are the leading killer of Minnesota teens — 102 teen motor vehicle occupants were killed in the state during 2010–2012. Inexperience, distractions, risk taking and poor seat belt compliance are the primary factors for teen traffic tragedies.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.
Office of Traffic Safety Highlights