Although the overall number of young drivers involved in fatal crashes has fallen by almost 50 percent in the last 20 years, the past two years have seen higher numbers: from 2005 – 2016, Colorado averaged 64 young drivers involved in fatal crashes per year.

In 2017 and 2018 the average was 86 young drivers per year, an increase of 34 percent.

Because teen drivers’ inexperience makes them among the most dangerous drivers on the road, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is launching a safety campaign to encourage them to drive more safely and grow their awareness of Colorado’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. This year is the 20th anniversary of the passage of the GDL law.

Funny and informative videos called, ‘GDL Resale,’ depict scenarios with parents offering their teen’s car for sale in the manner of an auctioneer or used car salesperson, as consequences for not abiding the GDL laws.

The campaign, which kicked off Thursday, targets teens, ages 15 – 18, where they spend a lot of their time — on social media — including Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. The aim is to educate Colorado young drivers on the GDL restrictions.

The GDL law:

• Forbids passengers under 21 for the first six months of licensure – with only one passenger allowed after six months until the end of the first year

• Bans use of cell phones until the driver is 18; and

• Makes not buckling up a primary traffic offense and requires occupants in back seat to buckle up too

“When teens receive their driver’s licenses, the first year of driving is the most dangerous,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew.

“But our GDL law has contributed to a near 50-percent reduction in traffic fatalities involving young drivers over the last 20 years, which is very good news. We must continue to educate teens about GDL and enforce the law if we want to continue to see such positive results.”

Colorado first adopted a Graduated Driver Licensing law two decades ago, in 1999, after a horrific crash in Greeley that killed four teenagers. A 16-year-old driver had just received his license and he had little experience driving when his friends jumped in his car, and he ran a stop sign.

GDL laws help teens gain important driving skills gradually while putting restrictions on the number of passengers permitted, banning cell phone use, and encouraging seatbelt use, among other rules.

“Motor vehicle crashes are not caused by involuntary or inevitable mistakes. Teens are as powerful as they are vulnerable, because most teen crashes involve voluntary choices. By partnering with CDOT and promoting the GDL awareness campaign, we hope to save lives by decreasing teen driver deaths,” said Drive Smart of the Rockies Executive Director Amy Nichols.

“When teens pay attention to the road, buckle up, and reduce the number of passengers in their cars, they drive smarter.”

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