Report identifies promising distracted driving programs for teens

Washington – New York state will have the country’s “toughest” distracted driving penalties for teens, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Among other measures, beginning Nov. 1, New York drivers younger than 21 convicted of texting or using a handheld cell phone while driving will have their license suspended for 120 days for a first offense and for one year after a second offense, the report states.

For the report, released Aug. 26, GHS gathered information from 37 states about the states’ teen distracted driving laws and programs, and consulted with teen driving experts to identify programs that use ‘promising’ approaches.

For example, in California, a program uses videos and other free, interactive tools to urge teens to protect themselves while driving.

In Pennsylvania, volunteer speakers use research, emotion and humor to educate teens about distracted driving.

In Washington, teens at more than 200 high schools have participated in projects such as legislative rallies and construction of “memory walls” to honor crash victims as part of a program that awards $500 grants to student groups.

Among drivers who were distracted at the time of a fatal crash in 2012, 15- to 19-year-olds made up the largest proportion, according to the report.