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Prom message: Disconnect and drive

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Wed, May 1st 2019 05:35 pm

Erie County clerk, AAA, NYS Police & Tuxedo Junction partner for safe teen driving

By AAA of Western and Central New York

It’s prom season in Western New York – which means more teen drivers on the roads.

In an effort to keep teen drivers safe, Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns, AAA, the New York State Police and Tuxedo Junction have formed a unique partnership. When promgoers pick up tuxedos at Tuxedo Junction this year, they’ll receive important information and cellphone wallets reminding them to keep their eyes on the road and not on their phones when driving.

Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that, when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash increased 51%. In addition, more than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver in 2016 during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That is an average of 10 people per day – a 14% increase compared to the rest of the year.

The partnership is a way to get an important message to teens at a time when they are excited about prom season, graduations and upcoming summer vacation. The traffic safety partners recognize it is imperative to educate young drivers – especially during spring time when an influx of young drivers will be out on the roads.

“I want to thank AAA, the New York State Police and Tuxedo Junction for their leadership and willingness to address such an important issue impacting our teen drivers,” Kearns said. “Approximately 24,000 young drivers begin their driving careers at the Erie County Auto Bureau each year. This message is an important reminder not to drive ‘Intexticated.’ ”

“We are quickly approaching the ‘100 Deadliest Days,’ ” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations and corporate communications for AAA WCNY. “Since teens drive more during the summer than any other season, this is a timely reminder to everyone not to drive ‘Intexticated.’ With more than 3,400 people killed in distracted driving crashes each year, it is time for drivers to be accountable. We can save lives.”

“Mobile and smartphones are a way of life, but, when driving on the roadways, you may take a life by answering a text or using social media,” said trooper James O’Callaghan, public information officer, New York State Police-Troop A Headquarters. “Help make our roads safe by keeping your eyes on the road and not on your phone.”

Distracted driving is dangerous for all drivers, but especially new teen drivers and especially during prom, graduation, and summer time.

Unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after drivers use voice-based technology to dial, change music or send a text message. At 25 mph, drivers travel the length of nearly three football fields during this time.

Drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash, while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash.

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 880,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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