The Great Hang Up: Protecting Arkansas' teen drivers

    6:38 PM, Nov 23, 2011   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The combination of teenagers and vehicles can often lead to negative outcomes. Yet, several states are celebrating the teens that are driving responsibly and urging all teens to be safer behind the wheel.

    In this month's "Great Hangup," we share how the great state of Arkansas may soon see lower accident rates thanks to state officials and dedicated students.

    Spencer Roberg says, "I've seen the effects of what can happen in the hospital in the ER. And because I know from experience, I have two uncles I'll never meet because of unsafe teen driving."

    Spencer Roberg is an 18-year-old whose age could label him as an unsafe driver, according to statistics. But Spencer and other teens are speaking out about the importance of staying safe behind the wheel.

    Rep. Allen Kerr says, "There is nothing more tragic than a youthful person dying on the roads in Arkansas."

    Representative Allen Kerr along with other officials kicked off National Teen Driver Safety Week with a proclamation on behalf of Governor Beebe and support from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Arkansas Children's Hospital.

    According to State Farm Insurance, the first six months after getting a license are the most dangerous times for any driver. And Arkansas struggles with a teen driver death rate almost double that of the national average.

    Jetta Roberg witnesses results of bad teen driving every day in the ER at Arkansas Children's Hospital. Urging teens to drive safely is dear to her heart. She says, "Teenagers can make a difference. Teenagers can be the leadership to promote the good practices with their friends."

    It's tough to do, but her son Spencer tries to be one of those setting the good example. He says, "Oh it's very tempting! There's times when I catch myself reaching for the phone to read the text and my friends wondering and wanting to know where I am. And I just have to tell myself 'no I don't wanna do this! I don't wanna be a hypocrite.' It's just one of those things I'm passionate about."

    With their special safe driving rings and a big thumbs up, these teens join thousands across the nation to spread the word about the importance of safe driving and remembering when it's best to just hang up.

    This is the fifth year for Arkansas to observe National Teen Driver Safety Week. The legislature passed the Graduated Drivers License Law in Arkansas in 2009. It limits the number of passengers teens can have as well as late-night driving.

    As for cell phones? It is against the state law for teen drivers to USE them while driving.

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