Safety

As teens return to school, new CDOT campaign reminds them of teen driving laws

August 10, 2021 - Statewide Traffic Safety - Messages delivered by peers - focus on cell phones, passenger limits, buckling up

Campaign materials and videos available here: https://bit.ly/CDOT-Teen

DENVER – Colorado high school students are heading back to school this month with important reminders from their peers about safe driving.  Launching today, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s latest public awareness campaign educates teens about staying safe on the road.  “Keep Your License Safe” is a humorous social media effort that presents teens as the voice of reason when it comes to Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws. These laws apply only to new teen drivers. They restrict cell phone use, set passenger limits, and require seat belt use. 

CDOT’s “Keep Your License Safe” campaign features short videos with a surprising twist involving “peer-to-peer” message delivery. Each video highlights a different GDL law, with one teen playing multiple roles. 

 
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“This campaign gives teens an opportunity to learn about safe driving from each other, with an empowering message about making safe choices behind the wheel,” says Sam Cole, Communications Manager at CDOT. 

The “Keep Your License Safe” social media campaign begins today on TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. Teens across Colorado will be targeted. Campaign videos can be found here. 

Teen Driving Law #1 - No cell phones 

Teen Driving Law #2 - No passengers

Teen Driving Law #3 - Buckle up

Teen Driving Law #3 - Buckle up, Rural (specific message for Colorado’s rural communities)

 
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While the social media campaign is targeted at teens, Cole underscores the importance for the whole community to support young drivers during this critical learning phase. “Youth who feel connected with and have trusted relationships with adults, such as a parent or caregiver, coach or teacher, are more likely to succeed in school and make healthy choices - including safe driving choices." 

Resources including the Colorado GDL Toolkit and Parent/Teen Driving Contract help Colorado youth and the networks that support them to increase their knowledge of—and adherence to—teen driving laws. 

The Positive Impact of Colorado GDL Laws:

Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws are a set of laws that minimize risk and reduce fatalities among young drivers and their passengers by providing young drivers with an opportunity to safely gain driving experience before “graduating” to obtaining full driving privileges. GDL laws have helped significantly reduce fatalities among young drivers (ages 16 -17) and passengers in Colorado since the laws were strengthened in 2005. 

Mandatory Seat Belts: By law, teen drivers under 18 and their passengers must wear seat belts. Tragically, seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers and passengers. In fact, the majority of teenagers involved in fatal crashes are unbuckled. (NHTSA)

Cell Phones and Texting Banned: Teens under age 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. Teens' inexperience behind the wheel makes them more susceptible to distraction behind the wheel. A teen's risk of crashing increases by 23 times when texting while driving. (NHTSA)

Passenger Restrictions: Teens under 18 are not allowed to have any passengers under 21 for the first six months after receiving their license; for the next six months, only one passenger under the age of 21 is allowed.  Exceptions are made for siblings and in emergencies. Teen drivers are two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer, compared to when driving alone. (NHTSA)

Key Figures: 

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 18-year-olds in the U.S. (NHTSA)

  • 2015-2019: The number of fatalities for young drivers aged 15-20 in Colorado increased 13%.* 

  • 2019: More than twice as many young males died while driving than young females.* 

  • 2019: The majority of young drivers in a fatal crash had an intermediate driver’s license (restrictions include nighttime driving and a limit on the number of passengers).*

  • 2019: The top contributing factors associated with injury and fatal crashes among young drivers, ages 15 to 20 were inexperience followed by being distracted.*

*Source: Colorado Department of Transportation 2021 Problem Identification Statewide Report

Resources: 

Colorado GDL Toolkit: Members of the Colorado Young Drivers Alliance recently published the Colorado GDL Toolkit as a resource for Colorado youth and their parents, caregivers, and networks. The toolkit helps navigate available GDL resources to increase knowledge of and adherence to teen driving laws. 

Parent/Teen Driving Contract: A simple and effective way for parents to open the lines of communication about safe driving practices is with a Teen/Parent Driving Contract. A contract allows parents and teens to work together to establish driving rules and consequences. Parents can download a sample driving contract.

About CDOT

CDOT’s Whole System – Whole Safety program has one simple mission — to get everyone home safely. Our approximately 3,000 employees work tirelessly to reduce the rate and severity of crashes and improve the safety of all modes of transportation. The department manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway, more than 3,000 bridges and 35 mountain passes. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also operates Bustang, the state-owned interregional express bus service. Gov. Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.