Candid Talk Improves Teen Driver Safety

An award-winning safety advocate understands how to help teens reduce the risk of harm behind the wheel. Danielle Branciforte, head of the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition and statewide director for Florida Students Against Destructive Decisions, helped curb teen driving death rates in the Sunshine State nearly 20 percent last year. Emphasis on traffic safety is necessary because the role traffic crashes play in teen death totals.

Bottom line, vehicle crashes are leading cause of death for teens in the United States. That constitutes a public health crisis for the 15 to 19 year old age bracket. With SADD, Branciforte reaches schools across Florida and calls out the problems of underage drinking, and impaired driving while reminding about the importance of using a seat belt and avoiding distractions.

Branciforte identifies several avenues that helped improve teen safety on Florida’s roadways.

One approach sees doctors remind teens about the importance of safe driving. Another engages area high schools and work with students on awareness campaigns.

“Teens take it more seriously when they hear it from an adult they know and respect,” she said.

Reducing teen death behind the wheel means confronting driving-related problems like distracted driving and impaired driving.

Having schools interact with people who have lost relatives/loved ones to give students an unfiltered look at a life impacted by driver error. These approaches engage students more efficiently, Branciforte said.

It’s also best to avoid scare tactics and pandering.

“You don’t want them leaving scared, depressed and horrified. We want them uplifted and empathetic that they can make choices that won’t recreate that scenario in their family.”

Branciforte’s efforts were recently noticed by the National Safety Council, a group devoted to avoiding preventable deaths. The NSC awarded Branciforte its Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award for 2017.

“Our award winners recognize that safety is a journey rather than a destination,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, NSC President and CEO. “These people constantly ask, ‘What more can we do?’”

Danielle Branciforte bio:

  • Winner of the National Safety Council’s 2017 Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award.
  • Lead of the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition
  • Statewide coordinator, Florida Students Against Destructive Decisions