MVA saving lives with '5 to Drive' recommendations for teens

Teen Driver Safety Week
Posted at 3:15 PM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-20 06:24:39-04

Trey Glover got behind the wheel Wednesday, preparing to take his driver's test.

"I'm excited for him, but I’m nervous because this is a new phase of life, independent driving, and I want him to be safe at all times," said Trey’s mother, Kathy Glover.

The 17-year-old had been practicing with his parents.  He knows two eyes on the road, two hands on wheel and dropping distractions is the safest.

"No cell phones, no music,” Trey said.  “My mother doesn't let me listen to music when we drive and stuff like that, just focus on driving."

It's a lesson every new driver needs.

That's the reason the State Motor Vehicle Association is using National Teen Driver Safety Week to push five good habits that make the roads safer.

One of the biggest dangers behind the wheel is distracted driving.  If you look at your phone while going 55 miles per hour, in just five seconds you travel the length of a football field, and a lot can go wrong.  Last year 22% of crashes involving drivers aged 20 and under were all because the drivers were distracted.

No cell phones is rule number one in the 5 To Drive campaign.  The other rules are no extra passengers, no speeding, don't drink and drive, and always buckle your seatbelt.  Officials hope these tips will help cut back on the number of motorists being killed in car wrecks.

"In particular, young drivers are highly susceptible,” MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer said.  “We saw a 75% increase in our young driver fatalities last year and it's simply unacceptable, so we need to refocus our efforts in this area."

It's not clear why there's been such a spike, but officials say parents should talk to their teens about safe driving habits.

"I did good, so I’m happy," Trey said.

Despite the nerves, the Catonsville High student passed the test, making him another official licensed Maryland driver hitting the streets.

"I hope that all parents realize it's important to be an example for their children while driving, I hope that the youth realize it's important to be safe on the road, anything can happen," his mom said.

A lesson she especially hopes her son takes to heart.

Gov. Larry Hogan recently announced $12.5-million in highway safety grants statewide.  The money will directly go to help stop driving deaths and serious injuries.

In 2015, 21 drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 were killed on Maryland roads, a 75 percent increase from 2014 when Maryland recorded 12 fatalities.  

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android.