The Utah Department of Health and Department of Transportation announced an initiative to decrease the number of vehicle related fatalities among youth. Car accidents remain the leading cause of teen fatalities in the state. Last year 21 of the 217 Utahns who lost their lives in car accidents were teenagers.
The Zero Fatalities Campaign began in 2006 when members of Utah departments of health, public safety and transportation decided the number of motor vehicle related fatalities was unacceptable. The campaign currently focuses on factors such as distracted and aggressive driving that typically cause accidents. Fatality numbers have decreased since the campaign launched, but Carlos Braceras, Director of UDOT, believes many are still preventable, especially among the youth who are new campaign targets.
"We’re in every high school talking about safe driving techniques, and we’re in every elementary school in the state talking to young children about how to properly walk and bike to school as well," he says. "It’s all about getting to zero fatalities."
During the event, families who lost teenage children and siblings in fatal car related accidents last year shared personal stories. Seventeen year old Mason Sheeran lost her twin sister a year and a half ago, and hopes education can prevent common driving mistakes.
"So much of what my sister had set out to do, and so many of her goals were cut short because she just wasn’t wearing her seatbelt," she says."
UDOT and the Department of Health compiled ten of these family stories into a book. They’ve made it available online and will distribute it in every driver’s education class.