Teen driving safety targeted at Drive Safely to Wayne State Campaign, Sept. 19-20

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for American teenagers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The State of Michigan has made recent attempts to improve teen driving safety by implementing new rules for drivers under age 21, including limits on the number of passengers in a vehicle and restrictions on nighttime driving hours. The new restrictions, which took effect March 30, 2011, are designed specifically to curtail crash risks for teen drivers.

Wayne State University also is taking on the issue of teen safety with this year's "Drive Safely to Wayne State" campaign. The event, now in its eighth year, promotes safe driving practices and is conducted by the College of Engineering's Transportation Research Group (WSU-TRG).

"Drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely to be involved in a crash in comparison to older drivers," says Peter Savolainen, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "There are a variety of factors contributing to this problem, particularly their general inexperience as drivers. Drivers in this age group are also the least likely to wear safety belts and are at a greater risk for alcohol-involved crashes, in addition to being prone to other high-risk behaviors like texting while driving. With our Drive Safely to Wayne State campaign, we aim to educate the WSU community about these and other critical traffic safety issues."

The event will begin with an opening ceremony on Anthony Wayne Drive at 1 p.m., Monday, Sept. 19, emceed by Fox 2's Jackie Paige. Speakers at the opening ceremony include U.S. Congressman Gary Peters, who will deliver the keynote; Allan Gilmour, president of WSU; Ronald Brown, WSU provost; Robert Ficano, Wayne County executive; as well as administrators from the Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan State Police.

This year's event also will include interactive demonstrations and exhibits set up along Anthony Wayne Drive through approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20. Each exhibit will focus on a particular traffic safety theme such as safety restraint use, pedestrian safety, and the consequences of drinking and driving. Interactive games and events will be showcased, such as child safety seat checks, demonstrations with the use of "fatal vision" goggles to simulate impaired driving, free AAA "Great Pretender" nonalcoholic drinks, and a display of several vehicles that were involved in crashes. Daily prize drawings will be held for students, faculty, staff and the general public.

New to the event will be a Michigan Secretary of State Mobile Office, a full-service branch office at which customers can apply for and renew driver licenses and ID cards, change addresses, register to vote, sign up as organ donors and purchase a copy of their driving record, among other services.

The 2011 Drive Safely to Wayne State Campaign is made possible through a joint partnership among the WSU-TRG, Ford Driving Skills for Life, and AAA. Additional campaign support is provided by Prevention Network; Carrier & Gable; Hubbell, Roth & Clark; J. Ranck Electric; Lakeshore Toltest Corporation; and E-Light, LLC.

In addition to the Drive Safely to Wayne State campaign, the WSU-TRG is involved in the development, implementation and evaluation of various traffic safety programs on a local, state and national level. These programs cover a broad spectrum including engineering, education and enforcement initiatives.

More information on the Drive Safely to Wayne State campaign and the Wayne State University Transportation Research Group can be found at http://engineering.wayne.edu/drivesafely.

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