October 20, 2011

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt launches innovative safety program for teens to combat distracted driving

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is taking steps to prevent teen motor vehicle accidents.

Children’s Hospital is partnering with area high schools to launch a unique, student-run campaign to combat texting while driving and other driver distractions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents remain the leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers, and distracted driving as a whole is on the rise. In 2009, more than 5,400 people died in crashes that involved a distracted driver. Teen drivers are especially at risk, since they are four times more likely than older drivers to have an accident.

With support from Ford Motor Vehicle Company, the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital invited 32 students from nearby Station Camp High School and East Robertson County High School to participate in an interactive motor vehicle safety program, “Be in The Zone.”

During their visit, doctors, nurses and safety experts demonstrated the realistic chain of events that often occurs after a motor vehicle accident, explaining to students the physical, emotional and social consequences of distracted driving.

The students, with the help of Children’s Hospital, are now charged with developing and executing multi-faceted, anti-texting-while-driving campaigns at their schools and in their communities.

The pilot program is research-based, and is led by the students under the guidance of the Injury Prevention Program coordinator and student interns in the Injury Prevention Program. For more information on the program, please contact Purnima Unni, Injury Prevention coordinator at Children’s Hospital, at (615) 936-8222.