Bailey Burris, 17, a junior at Lakota East High School, has her car inspected Friday by automotive technicians. Technicians then discussed any detected problem with each student and provided an inspection sheet to take home to parents, said Kellie O Riordan, AAA traffic safety program manager. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
Photo: RICK McCRABB/STAFF
Photo: RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Battling teen driving crashes: Why AAA was at a Butler County school this week

“We at least should drive safely with the things that we can control such as what’s going on with our vehicle,” said Reichelderfer, who drives his parents’ Honda CR-V. He plans to continue driving that car when he attends the University Kentucky in the fall.

During the vehicle safety checks, automotive technicians identified potential problems with students’ vehicle belts, hoses, tires, lights, fluid levels and batteries. Technicians then discussed any detected problem with each student and provided an inspection sheet to take home to parents, said Kellie O’Riordan, AAA traffic safety program manager.

Students also were encouraged to sign a pledge to Slow Down! Speak Up! Stay Alert!

The AAA performs 24 inspections around the state every year, O’Riordan said. Several of the Lakota East students told the inspectors they didn’t know how to unlatch the hood or where to locate proper tire pressures.

Last year, more than 87 percent of the 1,367 cars AAA checked at Ohio high schools had at least one fault. The most common problems were with vehicle fluids and lights.

Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers, and spring and summer are especially dangerous for these new drivers, according to the AAA.

Nearly 38,000 injuries and fatalities occurred in Ohio teen driver crashes during the past five years, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation crash statistics. That’s an average of 20 injuries and fatalities every day.

Driving older, less reliable vehicle often puts these already inexperienced teen drivers at an even greater risk for breakdowns and crashes. That’s why AAA focuses its teen driver safety events around vehicle safety checks at high schools, O’Riordan said.

In addition to well-maintained vehicles, a modern young driver licensing system is a proven effective strategy for reducing teen driver crashes. Unfortunately, Ohio’s system for licensing young drivers hasn’t kept up with the latest research on teen driver crashes and how to prevent them, according to the AAA. As a result, young driver crash rates in Ohio remain unnecessarily high.

Modernizing Ohio’s young driver licensing system requires two small but important adjustments to bring it in line with current scientific evidence:

• Lengthen the temporary instruction permit phase from 6 to 12 months.

• Ensure newly licensed teen drivers are supervised by an adult while driving after 10 p.m., rather than midnight, for the first six months of licensure, with exemptions for work, school and religious activities.

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