Person driving car at night.

County of San Luis Obispo Receives Funding for Youth Traffic Safety Education Program

Author: Behavioral Health Department
Date: 10/23/2019 4:07:54 PM

The County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Department has been awarded a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for $55,000 for a year-long program of public awareness efforts to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries.

The grant gives local youth opportunities to lead projects that will actively engage their peers, family members and community members in reducing underage drinking and the issues that result from the behavior. The agency will use the funding to continue ongoing education efforts countywide and as a commitment to keep our roadways safe, improving the quality of life through both awareness and education. 

The grant award announcement comes during National Teen Driver Safety Week, (Oct. 20-26), a time when the County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Prevention and Outreach and Friday Night Live are working in schools throughout the county on campaigns promoting safe driving, including distracted driving and impaired driving prevention messaging. Driving remains the most dangerous activity for teens. Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old. In 2017, 2,247 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver (15-18 years old), according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), six out of every 10 crashes involving teens were caused by driver distraction. “Like anything new, it takes practice and experience to be a good driver,” California Highway Patrol San Luis Obispo Area Commander, Mike Bueno said. “Teen drivers are also more likely to take risks and pick up bad habits behind the wheel, which is why it is important for parents to be involved and take steps to ensure their teen is staying safe on the road.”

The Behavioral Health Prevention and Outreach Division offers tips to parents and guardians about starting conversations about safe driving with teens, and the responsibilities that come with being a licensed driver: · Graduated Driver License (GDL): Learn about California’s GDL laws, which place restrictions on passengers and driving at night during the first year they have a license.

  • Lead by example: Practice what you preach. Have driving sessions with your teen.
  • Set Ground Rules: Be firm on things like not using the phone while driving, no friends in the car, following the speed limit and never driving after drinking or using drugs. Establish consequences you will enforce if your teen breaks the rules.
  • Understanding the Consequences: Teach them about zero-tolerance laws regarding alcohol and California’s cell phone law, which bars drivers under 18 from using a cell phone for any reason, including hands-free. 
  • Sober Driving: Emphasize the importance of never riding with someone who has been drinking or using drugs.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For more information, please contact Megan Norris, [email protected], 805-781-4289.