Teens take pledge to be safe drivers
Summer is almost here and while that means no school for students, it also marks the beginning of "the deadliest time of year on the roads."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 400 young people die in traffic crashes during the summer.
Tuesday, youth from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C. to commit to making this summer the safest ever.
"My cousin, he died...got into an accident with someone who was under the influence," Bishop McNamara High School student Darien Jacobs said.
Jacobs' story was just one of many shared at the kickoff for Global Youth Traffic Safety Month.
His cousin's death motivated him to join a group at his school that promotes safe teen driving.
Jacobs added, "I really think that everyone should take this seriously."
New findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety offer a reality check for young drivers.
Peter Kissinger, president of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said, "Adding one passenger under the age of 21 to a 16 or 17-year-old driver actually increases the risk that that driver will die by 44 percent. But even more dramatically, if we add two passengers into the mix, the risk doubles."
Jacobs and others signed a pledge, supported by leaders in Washington, to stay safe and alert on the roads.
Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "This kind of peer pressure for safety will probably go a lot longer and a lot further than any lecture from Ray LaHood or anyone else..we need your help on this."
Romari Collins, a student in San Francisco, plans to take the safe driving message back home.
"We want to have fun in the summer, but we have to be responsible," Collins said.
Transportation Officials also say parents need to be a part of the discussion. Parents are encouraged to set up driving rules and stick to a contract.