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Garland Teen Driving Program Recognized

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX –

A student-led safe driving program in Garland is working. KERA's BJ Austin says all 7 Garland high schools organize events to highlight the dangers of texting and talking on the phone while driving - and urge their friends not to do it.

Russell Henk, with the Texas Transportation Institute, says they compared data from Garland with figures from Mesquite, which does not participate in the "Teens in the Driver's Seat" program.

Henk: We look for three critical changes. One is changes in awareness of the risks they face; changes in actual driving behavior. And then the bottom line, are we saving lives? And it's doing all three of those things in a noteworthy fashion.

The number of Garland teenagers involved in crashes dropped 12%; Mesquite 2% over the same period.

Henk says new research shows a driver who is "texting" is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. That rate for a drunk driver is 4 to 5 %.

300 Texas schools participate in the Teens in the Driver's Seat program. Garland is one of the most active. Additional case studies are underway to examine and document the effectiveness of "peer influence" on teenage driving habits.

Email BJ Austin