More than 30,000 people are killed in the United States in crashes each year. Motor vehicle crashes are a top 10 cause of death among people ages 1 to 54 and are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Six teens ages 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile drove, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers ages 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. In 2013, crash deaths in the U.S. resulted in $44 billion in medical and work loss costs.
A SOLUTION: Reduce Teen Crashes
To help address the problem in Tennessee, Tennessee Tech’s iCube group worked with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) in developing a system to increase traffic safety-related activities that would reduce traffic crashes, especially among teens. Based on a NHTSA model, Reduce TN Crashes is responsible for increasing the number of traffic safety outreach activities tenfold since its rollout in 2013. The program accomplishes this by engaging Tennessee high schools across the state in becoming advocates for traffic safety. The result of this increased activity has been a reduction in crashes involving teens.
The THSO analyzed the Tennessee database of crashes between 2013 and 2016 to rank schools per the number of drivers ages 15 to 24 who were involved in crashes. The data shows that of the 15 schools in 14 counties who conducted the most activities in the Reduce TN Crashes campaign, nine counties improved (lowered their overall county crash ranking), one stayed the same (its county crash ranking remained the same), and four increased their rate of crashes (moved toward a higher crash ranking). Schools moving down the crash ranking list support what NHTSA has pointed out for years — that traffic safety activity leads to a reduction in crashes and Reduce TN Crashes promotes more traffic safety activity at an accelerated rate.
Now, Innocorp, Ltd. — a Wisconsin-based leader in developing innovative traffic safety education and awareness outreach — and Tennessee Tech’s iCube are joining forces to take Tennessee’s successful reducetncrashes.org website and expand the installation of the site into other states.
REDUCE TEEN CRASHES ROLL OUT ACROSS THE NATION
The program will provide students and schools with a catalog of activities that connect them with traffic safety partners across the state. The site will maintain the three levels — Bronze, Silver, and Gold — with a consistent point structure and value for all states. National activities will be automatically populated on the site, and then, ideally, an in-state resource will need to find and add new state-specific activities to the program. Overall, each state will follow the same flow of the original Tennessee site, with Bronze level activities remaining the same (sending print/marketing materials to the school). The Silver level will be the primary category, where states can add new activities. The Gold level will include activities that are more outreach-oriented, such as community-wide events. This will ensure the program is consistent throughout all states and keep the core NHTSA best practices that guided the site’s initial development in place.
The ultimate benefit is using this tool to reduce the number of traffic crashes and the deaths and injuries that result — especially among teens. Other benefits include:
- Consolidating traffic safety activities the state might want to promote in a one-stop-shopping location;
- Quickly initiating traffic safety activities through reducetncrashes.org;
- Generating competition among participating schools through a leaderboard, which will result in higher levels of participation and implementation of activities;
- Automating requests for information and materials required to initiate activities;
- Automating tracking of high schools’ point acquisition for completed activities;
- Providing statewide exposure for organizations’ traffic safety activities; and
- Fostering the development of traffic safety advocates within high schools.