A First Impact program seminar held for parents and students on Monday evening at Farmington High School brought into focus the life and death safety decisions made everyday by Missouri drivers.
First Impact is an evidence-based, traffic safety parent program designed to educate parents and beginning drivers about the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program implemented by the state of Missouri.
The meeting was led by Deana Tucker Dothage, director of the First Impact program with the Missouri University School of Medicine.
“About 80% of Missourians do not know what the GDL law is,” she said. “It is a statewide program, so we are everywhere in Missouri. We can come to your church, business, 4-H, FFA groups — we can go anywhere in the state.
“The goal of this program is to educate parents about the GDL law. We believe that if parents understand the law and are trained to enforce and monitor the law that less fatalities and crash injuries will occur.”
The First Impact program has four objectives: Teach parents about teen driving risks; help parents and teens understand the GDL; teach parents about GDL monitoring and enforcement at home; and highlighting the importance of parents being a positive role model.
Providing several statistics, Dothage said, “Teens 15-19 years of age have the highest crash risk rate of any age group on the road. Teens are three times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. Risks are highest during the first 30-90 days and remains high through the first year.”
The GDL has three stages that teens go through to obtain driving privileges in Missouri:
• At age 15, teens obtain an instruction permit and have to go through training and have restrictions on their driving. They must have a qualified driver with them at all times.
• Practice six months or 182 days with a qualified driver.
• Must have a qualified driver over 25 years of age sitting beside them in the front seat.
• Complete a minimum of 40 hours of supervised driving — 10 of those hours at night.
• Everyone in the vehicle must wear a safety belt.
• At age 16, there is eligibility for an intermediate license that still carries restrictions. They do not need to have a qualified driver with them.
• During the first six months, the new driver cannot have more than one passenger under 19 years of age in the vehicle that is not an immediate family member.
• After six months, the new driver cannot have more than three passengers under 19 years of age in the vehicle that is not an immediate family member.
• The new driver cannot drive between the hours of 1-5 a.m. — except for school activities, a job or an emergency — unless they are accompanied by a licensed driver who is 21 years of age or older.
• Everyone in the vehicle must wear a safety belt.
• At the age of 18, a full license can be obtained with no restrictions.
Among other things, the program emphasizes the use of a Parent Teen Driving Agreement (PTDA). The PTDA is a formal written agreement between parents and the teen driver outlining specific rules that parents and teens agree to follow. The PTDA helps both parents and teens to understand acceptable driving behavior.
At the meeting, Corporal Dallas Thompson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol spoke about the laws involved in the GDL program and took questions from the audience.
Commenting on the First Impact program, Thompson said, “This is a wonderful program for parents to be able to learn what the graduated driver’s license law is. They can take that home and give that instruction to children moving forward.
So that way, whenever those children find themselves out driving on their own — 16 to 17 years old and going to high school; and to and from sporting events — then they will know what the actual rules to the road are.
“They see parents drive, and a lot of times parents don’t drive the way they should, so they are going to imitate what they learn in those situations. We really stress on the parents here to be good role models, and teach their children to do the right thing and drive the right way. Hopefully the children will emulate that moving forward.”
Thompson explained that he has worked many crashes in St. Francois County area where children have been involved.
“I can remember several crashes that I’ve investigated myself where 14- to 15-year-olds have been training and killed in crashes and having to go and notify parents,” he said. “It’s a great program for parents to teach, so other parents don’t have to go through the same thing that other parents have went through by having children killed.”
For more information or to sponsor a First Impact seminar, contact Deana Tucker Dothage at 573-884-3463, or go to email@example.com.
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I can remember several crashes that I’ve investigated myself where 14- to 15-year-olds have been training and killed in crashes and having to go and notify parents.” – Cpl. Dallas Thompson, MSHP
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