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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Offers Teen Driver Programs That May Help Prevent an All-Too-Common Tragedy

Oct. 19 –25 is National Teen Driver Safety Week

Two programs offered at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC can help prepare teen drivers for the responsibility of being behind the wheel and reduce teen traffic injuries and deaths.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in kids ages 15 – 20, a sobering fact being highlighted during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 19 – 25, 2008.

Children’s developed the Reality Education for Drivers (RED) program several years ago for a high-risk category of drivers — teenagers who have been cited for a moving violation, such as speeding or running a traffic light. Those enrolled in the half-day course are referred by the district magistrate presiding over their cases. A parent’s involvement is required; completing the program and avoiding additional moving violations may erase their initial citation from their record.

More recently, Children’s Hospital developed a new program called RED – Before the Crash, which addresses the seriousness of driving an automobile and focuses on teenagers who have not yet started driving or who have just earned their license.

“We’ve had tremendous success with the RED program. Rather than just punishing a teen who demonstrated risky driving behaviors with a fine, the program lets them hear from others who have suffered because of this kind of driving, and to hear directly from medical personnel who care for teens injured in motor vehicle crashes,” said Barbara Gaines, MD, director of Children’s Benedum Pediatric Trauma and Injury Prevention programs. “Based on the success of RED, we created RED – Before the Crash to teach teens these valuable lessons before they ever get behind the wheel.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 teens ages 16–19 died every day in 2005 (the most recent statistics available) from injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes. That same year, nearly 400,000 motor vehicle occupants in this age group sustained nonfatal injuries that required treatment in an emergency department.

Children’s Hospital established the RED program to stop risky driving behavior before it causes such crashes. Teens attending the program hear a presentation about risky driving, which includes sobering accident data, an equally sobering video and an explanation by Dr. Gaines of what the forces involved in a crash can do to the human body. Then parents leave, the teens are “assigned” various injuries that would reflect what they might get in a motor vehicle crash, and then they tour Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to see firsthand the areas where crash victims may receive care. They also talk with Children’s Hospital social workers about the impact of these injuries on other members of the family and hear from district magistrates about the legal consequences of risky driving.


Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
October 20, 2008
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Last Update
October 20, 2008