According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the state's teenagers, ages 16-20, were behind the wheel in 58,392 accidents throughout 2010.
In response to that staggering number, Toyota recently announced that it is hosting a free advanced driving skills program called Toyota Driving Expectations. The event is for recently licensed or permitted teens and their parents in an attempt to reduce the number of teen related car accidents and educate teens and parents on the dangers of distracted driving. The event will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago on October 20 and 21.
"The ultimate goal of the Toyota Driving Expectations program is for teens to develop responsible daily driving habits and gain the skills to handle challenging situations behind the wheel," said Michael Rouse, Toyota's vice president of diversity, philanthropy and community affairs.
In 2004 Toyota established On the Road, the free safe-driving teen program that educates teens on distracted driving, safety habits and how to drive defensively. The two and a half hour course uses both class discussions and driving times, in addition to requiring parental participation in order to encourage family members to act as role models for good driving behavior. On the Road has educated nearly 20,000 teens and parents.
Toyota Driving Expectations will be taught by professional drivers and was developed in partnership with the National Safety Council and the Defensive Driving Academy in California. Curriculum includes identifying potentially dangerous situations encountered on a daily basis, defensive driving and crash avoidance practices, dangers of distracted driving and distractions influence on reaction time and understanding a vehicle's safety features.
According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, risky driving behavior in teens, ages 16 and 17, increases when other teenage passengers are in the car.
The foundation showed that the prevalence of speeding increased from 30 percent to 44 percent and 48 percent when there was zero, two and three or more teenage passengers present in the vehicle, respectively. In addition, the occurrences of late-night driving, 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., increased from 17 percent to 22 percent and 28 percent when zero, two and three or more passengers present in the vehicle, respectively.
Parents are encouraged to get involved when it comes to their teen driving, especially considering it is the leading cause of death for teenagers, as they are involved in more auto accidents than any other age group.
Car owners should also have their vehicle maintenanced, checking brakes and lighting to ensure any driver is as safe as possible before getting behind the wheel.