A video contest sponsored by the Connecticut DMV and Travelers recently opened, giving high school students the opportunity to create a video advocating for vehicle safety and obeying the rules of the road.
This is the 10th annual contest and this year’s title is “Could this be you? Every second matters.” Past contest winners can be viewed on the YouTube account “teensafedriving12.”
Natalie Duphrezin, a seventh-semester allied health major, said if the DMV offered a similar contest for college students, she would participate in it. She said the contest title holds meaning for her.
“Within seconds anything could happen. You could… cause an accident which could potentially harm someone else’s life or affect someone’s life permanently,” Duphrezin said.
According to the contest description, the DMV has been raising awareness about distractions and unsafe behaviors that cause dangerous situations for drivers.
The number of traffic fatalities in Connecticut is currently higher it has been in than the last four years, according to the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Young driver crashes, which are crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 25, made up 35 percent of crashes in the last two years, according to the Connecticut Crash Depository.
A rise in traffic fatalities has been a national trend said Marisa Auguste, behavior analyst for the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center. There are several factors that can contribute to fatal crashes that have not always been the case, Auguste said.
“More people are driving, more people are out. We’ve had unseasonably warmer weather so maybe people are driving a lot more than they would normally,” Auguste said.
Novice drivers tend to be more prone to accidents because they don’t have as much driving experience, according to Auguste. She said teen drivers may not foresee the potential consequences of actions such as texting and driving.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have kids,” Auguste said. “I’m hoping we’ll have fully autonomous vehicles then.”
Auguste said parents should exhibit safe driving habits because children can see what they’re doing from the back seat.
“If you’re looking at your phone, they’re going to think it’s fine too,” Auguste said.
Parents tend to trust driving schools to teach their children all they need to know, according to Auguste. She said teens need to be educated before they learn to start driving, whenever parents feel comfortable enough to start teaching them.
“A lot of people can get their license,” Auguste said. “That doesn’t mean that you’re a good driver or that you’re exhibiting safe driving habits.”
Auguste said peers also need to spread safe driving awareness. If a person sees their friend doing things they should or should not be doing, they may start to reflect those behaviors, according to Auguste.
Auguste said if a teen doesn’t have a strong foundation with their family, they may be more likely to get caught up in a peer’s habit.
“(Peers are) who you spend most of your time with,” Auguste said.
Teens might be more likely to listen to each other and younger students may tune out what adults are saying to them, Duphrezin said.
“We’re probably more prone to listening to our own age than adults,” Duphrezin said. “We tend to not listen half the time.”
Auguste said she feels that certain driving habits, such as texting and driving, should become a social stigma.
“You have to make it not okay,” said Auguste. “Nobody wants to be the person who’s doing the bad thing. Nobody wants to be the odd man out.”
Nicholas Hampton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.