As the first anniversary approaches for a high-profile deadly teen driver crash in south Orange County, a coalition of traffic safety groups announced today they are hosting a regional safety fair for teen drivers and their parents at a local park. Coalition members include the Automobile Club of Southern California, Assemblyman William P. “Bill” Brough (R-Dana Point), the California Highway Patrol, City of Mission Viejo and 30 other organizations.
The event is free and open to the public. It is being held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, at Oso Viejo Community Park, 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo 92692. The interactive safety fair will highlight why teens crash and dangers of inexperience, distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence. At the safety fair, teens may try “fatal vision” goggles that simulate alcohol or marijuana impairment. The event will also feature a video game simulator where teens can experience how texting while driving can increase crash risk.
The fair coincides with the anniversary of a 2014 teen driver crash where five south Orange County students were killed and the unlicensed teen driver was severely injured. It also brings awareness to National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 18-24.
Teen Driver Safety Collaboration
The Auto Club, Assemblyman Brough, the CHP and the City of Mission Viejo collaborated to host the safety fair in response to teen driver fatalities and injuries locally. At the fair, Mission Hospital is presenting a session about teen trauma in our community. In addition to the 2014 crash involving the south county teens, novice driver crashes have taken the lives of teen drivers and passengers throughout Orange County in Brea, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Newport Beach and Santa Ana, according to news reports.
"In the wake of the tragic 2014 accident, we must continue to provide additional safety resources for our first time drivers. As parents begin to hand over their car keys to their children, it's important these young drivers are also capable and safe drivers. These types of teen driving programs help reduce car accidents and can save lives," said Assemblyman Brough.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all 15-to-19-year-olds nationwide. NHTSA data show that in 2013, there were 2,614 young drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes and an estimated 130,000 young drivers were injured. Nationally, in 2013 almost one in five (19%) teen drivers (ages 15 to 19) involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Statewide in 2013, 349 teen drivers were killed, up 5.5% from 2012; thousands of others were injured. Teen motor vehicle fatalities (age 16-19) increased 11.8% from 180 in 2012 to 204 in 2013, according to CHP statistics from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). Recently in Orange County, high-profile teen driver crashes resulted in multiple teen driver and passenger fatalities and injuries. A high-profile 2013 Newport Beach crash and the 2014 Irvine crash off I-5 killed 10 teens.
Teen Driver Crash Adult Toll
“One of the most difficult tasks for any officer is notifying parents that their teen-ager was killed in a traffic collision, and it is even worse when the crash was totally preventable,” according to the CHP. “Young drivers may not realize the magnitude of the aftermath of a fatal collision, and the emotional toll it takes. It is up to all of us – family, friends, experienced drivers – to set the right example, avoid distractions behind the wheel, and focus on our own driving.”
The teen driver safety event also will feature educational panel discussions about the state’s Graduated Driver License law, the impact and consequences of impaired and drugged driving and a look at teen trauma in the community.
“Trauma is the leading cause of death of youth in our country. It is the silent epidemic that is plaguing our nation. Motor vehicle collisions are one of the main types of traumas that we see at Mission Hospital Trauma Center and most involve our youth,” according to Dr. Almaas Shaikh, Mission Trauma Center’s Trauma Medical Director.
“Trauma is a preventable disease and is most often caused by the decisions we make. Choosing to wear your seatbelt, choosing not to drink and drive or choosing not to be distracted by a text or your phone while you're behind that wheel. In the end, it's a simple wrong decision that can end up costing a life. Mission Trauma Center encourages our youth to be safe, be sober and keep your eyes on the road,” Shaikh added.
Teen Safety Fair’s Hands-On Activities
According to Anita Lorz Villagrana, manager of the Auto Club’s Community Programs & Traffic Safety, “Teen driver safety is everyone’s concern: from parents to teens to friends of teens. The teen driver safety fair focuses on proven ways that teens and parents can work together to help teens become safer drivers and help keep teen drivers safe.”
The event also will offer hands-on learning opportunities like a custom “vehicle fit,” which teaches teen drivers seat-belt, foot pedals, mirrors and seat-height adjustments by Auto Club Driving School instructors to help them be positioned in a vehicle safely before they drive.
Music and a DJ, lunch and beverages, contests, and giveaways also will be featured. AAA Approved Auto Repair specialists will have vehicles on site to review basic under-the-hood vehicle maintenance tips with teens and parents. Regular maintenance checks can greatly reduce car ownership costs.
Safety Fair Exhibitors
Other participating organizations will include: Big Brothers & Sisters of Orange County, the California Dept. of Insurance, the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles, Dave & Busters-Irvine Spectrum, Friday Night Live, Impact Teen Drivers, MADD, Mission Viejo Police Services, the National Hot Rod Assn., OCTA, OC Fire Authority, RADD and The Toll Roads. Also participating are: DrinkingandDriving.org, Santiago de Compostela Chapter, Jamba Juice, Knott’s Berry Farm, Lion’s Heart, Medieval Times, Sprint, Streets are for Everyone and others.