Russell Henk, Program Manager
Center for Transportation Safety
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Texas A&M University
San Antonio, TX 78213
ph. (210) 979-9411 Ext. 17105 · fax (210) 979-9694
Teens in the Driver Seat, America’s first peer-to-peer safety program for young drivers, is committed to fighting the number-one killer of teenagers in America. The program is distinct from other safety campaigns in two important ways: first, TDS focuses on all of the top risks that are unique to novice drivers, and second, the program relies on the target audience to develop and deliver safety messages.
More teenagers die in car crashes than from any other cause. While car crashes account for 2 percent of all deaths nationwide, they account for 43 percent of teen deaths. The economic cost of this tragedy across the United States exceeds $41 billion each year and this national problem has reached epidemic proportions in Texas. The death toll for teens across the state is more than 500 each year. The vast majority of these crashes are attributable to a combination of driver inexperience, coupled with one or more of the five major risks facing teen drivers (driving at night, distractions such as cell phones and other young passengers, speeding, not using seat belts, and drinking and driving).
In the years since TDS was initiated, the teen driver fatal crash rate has dropped faster and more steadily in Texas than in any other state. Building on the success of the program in high schools, TDS has added components designed to reach the junior high (pre-driver) audience as well as college-age drivers and passengers.
TDS staff are dedicated primarily to spreading the TDS program to interested schools and communities throughout Texas. In addition, researchers have expertise in the following areas:
- Graduated Driver License (GDL) laws
- Crash data analysis
- Crash trends for young drivers
- Teen driver risk awareness
- Teen driver behavior
- Teen driving and cell phone use
- Texas Department of Transportation
- Georgia Department of Transportation
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- State Farm
- North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program
For more information visit the Teens in the Driver Seat website.