LEESBURG, VA –When "summer break" ends, thousands of college students will be driving back-to-school and an urgent plea to be safe on America's highways is being issued from CollegeBound Teen Magazine, Hey U.G.L.Y., Inc., NFP and Precision Tune Auto Care (PTAC). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 7,452 fatal crashes involving young drivers (16-20) in 2003. LEESBURG, VA–When "summer break" ends, thousands of college students will be driving back-to-school and an urgent plea to be safe on America's highways is being issued from CollegeBound Teen Magazine, Hey U.G.L.Y., Inc., NFP and Precision Tune Auto Care (PTAC). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 7,452 fatal crashes involving young drivers (16-20) in 2003. While the number of highway deaths overall rose 0.4% in 2003, fatalities in crashes involving drivers ages 16 through 20 rose 1.3%, according to NHTSA. Teenage drivers are involved in fatal crashes at twice the rate of drivers overall, and have a fatality rate four times that of drivers ages 25 to 69. Helping propel the death figures is an "explosion of teen drivers on the road," says Jacqueline Gillan, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a consumer group. The Federal Highway Administration says the U.S. had 9.3 million fully licensed drivers age 16 to 19 in 2003, its most recent figures, 7% more than in 1993; growth has been substantially greater in the number with learner's permits or "intermediate" licenses.
According to the Car Care Council, poor vehicle maintenance is responsible for five percent of road accidents involving 2,600 deaths and 100,000 disabling injuries each year. "Our goal is to educate students on car care, safe driving practices and give them incentives to have their vehicles inspected before they drive back to college," explains Gina LaGuardia, editor-in-chief of CB Teen.
CB Teen Magazine and PTAC have launched their third annual "Student Pass" program to get teens to jump on the "Safety Rules" bandwagon. This year, Hey U.G.L.Y., Inc., NFP, the national nonprofit that helps teens with self esteem issues has joined the effort. The program features safe driving tips, auto care safety guidelines and a Student Pass Savings Club card available online at www.precisiontune.com, redeemable at participating PTAC centers. The card entitles students to a comprehensive pre-trip vehicle safety inspection and premium oil change at the lowest advertised price, plus 10% off any additional recommended services.
"We've also created a Safety Rules Survey that asks important questions about teen driving habits and a sweepstakes where teens can vie to win a new computer by going to www.precisiontune.com," says LaGuardia. "We want to encourage teens to get their cars thoroughly inspected before they head out on the road. A comprehensive inspection can help increase the safety of vehicles and preclude troublesome, costly highway breakdowns. Such an investment empowers teens to assert their independence and responsibility — another large part of the college preparation process."
According to the Car Care Council, "..tow truck operators along Interstate highways see all too many travelers forced to return home ahead of schedule due to car trouble. The situation usually means more than just a repair bill. It can involve towing charges, lodging and a possible rental car. Add to that the cost of extra phone calls, meals and general inconvenience, and the ordeal becomes expensive."
Joel Burrows, a.k.a. "The Car Doctor," and vice president of training and R&D at PTAC advises teens to make it a habit to walk around their cars and visually inspect their tires. He recommends adjusting all mirrors and checking windshield wipers before putting the car in gear. "Poor vision and inadequate lights during a rain storm can be a deadly combination, as can adjusting these vital components while engaged in driving the vehicle," explains Burrows.
He also urges drivers to buckle up and follow posted speed limits. "Students need to be well-rested before they head out for a long trip back to college,?