Texas Transportation Institute Teen Peer Safety Program Earns Back-to-back National Awards

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The GHSA honor is the second national award earned by TDS in 2011, having received the Transportation Achievement Award for Safety from the Institute of Transportation Engineers last month.

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The Teens in the Driver Seat program has become a clear example of the traffic safety culture movement and what it can achieve, especially in a time of limited resources

The Governors Highway Safety Association has recognized the Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS) program with its Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Award. The GHSA honor is the second national award earned by TDS in 2011, having received the Transportation Achievement Award for Safety from the Institute of Transportation Engineers last month.

TDS, created by the Texas Transportation Institute, was developed to bring a fresh approach to teen driver safety, getting teens directly involved in both the development and the delivery of safety messages to their peers. It is the fastest-growing such program in the U.S., and is sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, State Farm, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

Since its introduction in 2003, Texas has seen a 45 percent decrease in the frequency of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes. In addition, Texas is the only state to have seen a drop in that number each and every year since 2002.

The program has grown by 20 percent in 2011, reaching more than half a million high school students in more than 500 high schools. This included expansion of Teens in the Driver Seat in more than 40 schools in Connecticut, Georgia and North Carolina. The program also established a partnership with the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization to focus on international outreach and expansion. The program has added a special peer-to-peer component for junior high school students, and another focusing on the college-age population.
The program achieved these milestones in the face of severe budget cuts imposed during the year.

“The Teens in the Driver Seat program has become a clear example of the traffic safety culture movement and what it can achieve, especially in a time of limited resources,” the GHSA said in its announcement. “It has made a positive impact in Texas, and its influence is beginning to be felt in other states.”

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Michelle Hoelscher

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