Alabama Pediatricians Enlisted to Fight Teen Driver Fatalities

Allstate Insurance in a 2008 study, ranked Alabama as the second most dangerous state in the country for teen drivers.  According to the study, of the nation’s fifty largest metropolitan areas, the Birmingham-Hoover area was the fifth deadliest for teen drivers, as well. 

Allstate has given a safe driving grant to the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to help combat the problem of teen driving fatalities in the state.  The director of the injury prevention division of the Alabama Department of Health, Richard Burleson, said, “In any given year, vehicular deaths account for a third to half of all preventable child deaths in Alabama.”  According to Burleson, many are not aware of the the modification made to the graduated driver’s license by the Alabama legislature in 2010. 

Under the 2010 law, it is illegal for a 16-year-old driver to drive with more than one non-family member passenger.  These drivers also cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. unless they are with an adult, going to or from work, a school event or a church event.  There are some exemptions to the law that pertain to emergencies or hunting and fishing excursions, as well.

The Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is taking steps to spread awareness of the graduated driver’s license law.  One way they are doing so is by using the $25,000 Allstate grant to distribute a “tool kit” of safe driving information to doctors at a conference on Friday.  Dr. Carden Johnston, an emergency medicine physician, stated, “Pediatricians are a credible resource in society.  Adolescents, believe it or not, will sometimes listen to them.  Very often, not always, they will comply.”

Contained in the kit is a driving log for both parents and teens to track how often the teen practices driving with parents.  The recommendation for teen’s with permits is to drive for fifty hours before either obtaining a driver’s license or driving alone.  The kit contains a driving agreement which outlines what teen drivers will and won’t do behind the wheel, as well.

Perhaps with the additional information and push coming from their doctor, Alabama teens will heed the advice in the safety driving kits, take the steps to drive more maturely and, thus,  help make Alabama roadways safer for themselves and other drivers, too.