Collaboration aims to reduce teen driving injuries & deaths

Press Staff Writer

        ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital, State Farm Insurance and Impact Teen Drivers came together Oct. 22 to recognize National Teen Driver Safety Week and challenge the community to help stop the number-one killer of teens in the U.S.—preventable car crashes.
        This is the fifth year the organizations have worked together using evidence-based education to improve teens’ attitudes and behaviors about safe driving.
        Nearly 4,000 teens die annually from car crashes—that is 11 teens dying every single day. Three-fourths of these crashes don’t involve drugs and alcohol, meaning that the vast majority have to do with reckless and distracted driving.
        The event was designed to empower young people to make choices that keep them safe behind the wheel, while reminding parents that they are the number-one influencer of their teens’ driving attitudes and behaviors. The importance of parents demonstrating proper seatbelt use “every ride every time” and enforcing the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, which are in place to make roadways safer for everyone, were emphasized.
        “Cars are being built with more and more safety features, roadways are being designed to be safer, but the one thing missing is the commitment from all Ohioans to choosing a safe ride by buckling up, putting away the distractions, and choosing to follow the laws that are in place to keep drivers safe,” said Michael Smith, Injury Prevention Specialist at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital.
        Brock Dietrich lost his daughter, Sydnee, to distracted driving. “I have to live every day with the loss of my daughter, and the knowledge that I didn’t always set the example that I meant to. It is critical that you be the driver you want your child to be,” said Dietrich. “Young drivers just developing their driving habits are key to changing the driving culture to one that is safe. “Parents are the number-one influencer of teens’ driving attitudes and behaviors.”
        In Lucas County, numbers of distracted driving-related deaths have improved. The number of teen drivers that lost their lives in Lucas County decreased from four in 2014 to one in 2018 (ages 15-19). The proportion of teen drivers involved in Lucas County crashes has decreased from 6.1% in 2014 to 4.9% in 2018, and what’s more, the number of teen drivers involved in crashes has decreased while the total number of people involved in crashes has increased. Proper seat belt use among teens involved in crashes has increased from 84% to 87% from 2014-2018 (ages 15-19).
        State Farm supports ProMedica and Impact Teen Drivers education efforts in Ohio. “This is the fifth year of our partnership and we are clearly making a difference in Lucas County,” said Benjamin Justice, public affairs specialist at State Farm.
        Heidi Deane, Education Outreach Coordinator at Impact Teen Drivers, said, “It will take all of us—educators, health professionals, parents, and communities—to make our roadways safer for you, me, and our children, but ultimately it comes down to choice.”
        For more information about ProMedica, visit


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