Tulsa Public Schools will open their doors Aug. 22 for the new school year and the increased traffic coupled with new drivers leads to an unusually high call volume of motor vehicle collisions for EMSA during the first few weeks of school.
“We see a five-times or greater increase in emergency calls from motor vehicle collisions involving kids aged 16 to 18 years old during the end of August and the beginning of September,” said Kelli Bruer, EMSA spokeswoman. “It can be a result of an increase in traffic, but we also see many new and inexperienced teenage drivers on the road.”
Oklahoma laws call for a Graduated Licensing Program designed to stair step teens from driving with a certified instructor to a licensed adult at least 21 years of age before finally receiving an unrestricted license. It was developed with the goal of reducing accidents involving inexperienced drivers and making the roads safer.
“During any given three-week period throughout the year, EMSA might only respond to about a handful of car accidents involving teens,” said Bruer. “Last year, however, we responded to 26 in the three-week back-to-school timeframe.”
However, back-to-school traffic is often congested and difficult to navigate even for experienced drivers. Thus, EMSA offers the following tips for driver safety:
- Always wear seat belts and obey all traffic signs and laws.
- Practice the route to and from school with your teenage driver being sure to point out any hazardous areas that may involve school bus stops, construction or cross walks.
- Remind new drivers the importance of not talking or texting on the phone while driving.
- Reduce any distractions inside the car so the driver can concentrate on the road and their surroundings including limiting the number of passengers.
- Get a complete tune up for the vehicle your teenage driver will be driving before the first day of school to minimize the chance of mechanical problems.