With over 100 Texas high schools now deploying Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS), new federal funding totaling $343,000, announced by U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriquez in April, will help the unique TTI teen driver safety program continue its expansion.
TDS is America’s first peer-to-peer program that alerts young drivers to the distractions and behaviors that are responsible for the majority of teen accidents: driving at night, cell phone use, texting, having too many teen passengers, speeding, low seat belt use and alcohol. Every year, 6,000 teenagers die in U.S. car crashes.
“We are, in fact, facing an epidemic and a public health crisis,” Rodriquez said at a San Antonio news conference April 7. “There is an important role for law enforcement and parents, but the most important role is the one taken on by young drivers. That’s what Teens in the Driver Seat is all about and I want to congratulate the young people behind me.” The funding for TDS was part of a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration special appropriation approved by Congress.
Texas Transportation Commission Chairwoman and passionate TDS supporter Hope Andrade also spoke at the news conference. “We are here to announce a major step forward in our efforts to stop an epidemic that is the number one killer of teenagers,” she said. “What better way, then, to make them safer on the roadways than to have them carry the message to each other?”
Part of the money will help fund two inaugural safety summits planned for San Antonio and El Paso in the near future. The TDS – hosted events will bring law enforcement, medical professionals, teachers, legislators and, most importantly, teenagers together to examine the avoidable teen death crisis on the nation’s roadways.
“This money will go a long way in helping us continue to save lives,” said TDS Program Manager Russell Henk. “The enthusiastic support of Congressman Rodriquez and Chairwoman Andrade for Teens in the Driver Seat is greatly appreciated. The increased credibility that their support adds to our efforts is priceless.”