How to Improve Driving Skills of Teens With ADHD

By Jennifer Lea Reynolds, Contributor |June 28, 2017, at 3:34 p.m.


study published in the June issue of JAMA Pediatrics found that teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are about one-third more likely to be involved in a car accident than people without ADHD. They’re also more likely to obtain their driver’s license at a later time.

One of the study’s researchers, Dr. Flaura Winston, professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who serves as the scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says that while this finding is important, it’s not necessarily cause for alarm. In fact, she calls the study’s relatively low increase in risk encouraging, saying that the statistics illustrate “that it’s a manageable risk.” Winston also stresses that getting a driver’s license later doesn’t necessarily equate to a significantly longer period of time. It may just be by a few months later, although it varies by individual. “It just may take them a little longer,” she says.[See: 10 Concerns Parents Have About Their Kids’ Health.]

Consider Getting a License Later

Getting a license a bit later is fine with Amanda Plourde, a certified occupational therapy assistant, certified driving instructor and certified driver rehabilitation specialist at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital Network in Salem, New Hampshire. She says that ADHD teens who choose to delay obtaining their license demonstrate maturity, one of the traits she evaluates when assessing driver readiness among this age bracket.

“It’s a mature statement for them to realize this,” says Winston, who is also the vice president of the New England Traffic Safety Education Association.

But Don’t Wait Too Much Later

Ann Shanahan, an ADHD and executive functioning coach at Shanahan Sweeney Coaching in Chicago, warns of waiting too long to drive. Shanahan, who offers driver education to driving instructors, parents and teens through the program Behind the Wheel With ADHD, explains that individuals with ADHD typically have a maturational lag of three to five years compared to people without the disorder.

Therefore, many parents may feel it’s logical to have their child wait a few years beyond the minimum age requirement in their particular state.

However, she says that when a child turns 18, all that’s required in most states is six hours of class instruction, which doesn’t allow the teen with ADHD to fully understand and experience the intricacies of driving.

Encourage Sports and Exercise Involvement

Interestingly, Plourde thinks activities like biking or skiing can improve an ADHD teen’s driving skills because they allow a person to develop fast reflex times.

“I encourage parents to get their child involved in enhancing gross motor expression,” she says of such activities. “Driving is a complex social skill that requires reading other drivers and making timely, quick decisions.”

Talk to Your Child About the Seriousness of Driving

Winston says that the first time on the road presents the highest accident risk ever in a person’s life. For teens, whether they have ADHD or not, this experience brings the most likely chance of having a motor vehicle accident, which is the leading cause of death among this demographic. She explains that the transition of learning to drive with parents in the car to suddenly being alone or with a distracting passenger ups this risk. But she also says distraction transcends having a friend in the car. It also encompasses everything from hearing a cellphone ring to seeing billboards or a person across the street.

Therefore, Winston suggests that parents “start the conversation early about driving” and assess their child’s readiness to drive. She says this is essential for any child, but especially those with ADHD. “Parents may want to consider a driving rehabilitation specialist, which is typically an occupational therapist that specializes in driving.”

Plourde suggests limiting the number of passengers because “the more there are, the more distractions may arise which can increase the odds of an accident.” She explains that she may recommend not having any passengers for one year, but that if the teen has a good driving record during that time, parents should consider allowing them to have one passenger such as a best friend or sibling as a reward.

Take Medication Properly

It’s also important to have a conversation with a teen’s primary care provider and behavioral specialist. Winston says this helps ensure that ADHD medication is an active, necessary prescription that should be taken as recommended and used for an appropriate duration.

Plourde adds that an ADHD teen should “make sure meds are consistent in their system.” She also suggests staying in tune to the body’s reaction to these medications, saying that if they tend to wear off after a certain time, then driving beyond that point should be reconsidered.

Consider Helpful Apps and Resources

To help teens with ADHD and their parents, Shanahan says she developed a pre-trip appthat’s compatible with iPhones as well as Android devices. It acts as a self-checking system by asking the teen a series of short, easy questions in a checklist format. Responses about the destination and whether the adolescent has passengers, sufficient gas and medication are then sent to the parent via a text message. The teen’s phone is shut down until he or she arrives at the planned location, at which time another text is sent to inform parents.

Shanahan is also involved in driving instructor webinars as well as parent webinars. Instructors sign up at designated dates and times, while parents can take one at any time. “I encourage parents to take a webinar as soon as possible, not just when their child is about to learn to drive,” she says.

Winston suggests turning to readily available resources from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Management of ADHD. You’ll find topics such as Preparing Your Teen with ADHD for Safe Driving on the center’s site.

Ask About Individualized Driving Plans

Shanahan says that in some education systems Individualized Education Programs exist. “IEPs have been successful in the academic environment,” she says, “so I developed the phrase ‘IDP,’ or ‘Individualized Driving Plan.'” Shanahan explains that while teachers are required to obtain continuing education, that’s often not the case for driving instructors, which was a large part of the impetus behind her IDP concept. “This gives instructors the opportunity to remain educated on an ongoing basis,” she adds.

She strongly suggests that parents look into IDPs or similar programs when a teen begins driving. She holds meetings to reinforce the importance of spending more time learning driver education and gaining experience while also making sure the teen truly understands everything about his or her brain differences and driving habits compared to the non-ADHD adolescent.

“Parents can make sure schools as well as driving instructors understand the importance of IDPs,” she says.

Plan Logically

Many tips to help an ADHD teen improve their driving skills are steeped in common sense.

Plourde says it’s beneficial to avoid rush hour, take a slower route as opposed to a highway and limit radio use.

Winston agrees, adding that starting with familiar routes and daylight hours is ideal. She explains that parents should still be involved in the driving process even after their child has been on the road for a bit, especially to help review a new route. Another good practice for any individual, she says, is to always wear seat belts.

“It’s incumbent on parents, schools and the teenager to focus on the seriousness behind driving, especially when ADHD is involved,” Winston says. “Don’t ignore it, but manage it like anything else. Their safe mobility is essential.”

Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll

Rank Hospital Name Location
Boston Children’s Hospital Boston, MA
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Philadelphia, PA
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Cincinnati, OH
Texas Children’s Hospital Houston, TX
Johns Hopkins Hospital Baltimore, MD
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Chicago, IL
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus, OH
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Pittsburgh, PA
Children’s National Medical Center Washington, DC

Hospitals Ranking information as of June 28th, 2017

Corrected on July 5, 2017: A previous version of this story did not include the full name of the driving program that helps those with ADHD.


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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is partnering with law enforcement organizations to stop drunk drivers and save lives.

The 2017 national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is in effect across the country from August 16 to September 4.

“During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving,” stated the NHTSA. “Increased state and national messages about the dangers of driving impaired, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.”

According to NHTSA, 10,265 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2015, an increase from the 9,967 people killed in 2014. Over the Labor Day holiday period in 2015, there were 460 crash fatalities nationwide, 40% of which involved drivers who had been drinking (.01+ BAC).

Below are NHTSA’s recommended safe alternatives to drinking and driving:

  • Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation to get home safely.
  • Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app that allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
  • Use your community’s sober ride program.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
  • Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
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What To Do When Your Vehicle Breaks Down


How you fare when your vehicle fails is often a matter of how you respond. The decisions you make are important and can have positive or negative consequences. Fortunately, most problems are preventable.

Prevention and preparedness are key:

  • Get in the habit of conducting periodic safety checks to make sure your vehicle is in good operating condition.
  • A safety check includes tires, lights, belts, hoses, fluids and windshield wipers.
  • Read your owner’s manual to clearly understand which dash lights or signals indicate your vehicle is not operating properly and what to do in such situations.
  • Before a road trip, contact AAA to arrange for a free test of your vehicle’s battery, starting and charging system. This can help determine how much life is left in your battery and if any other components need repairs.
  • Program your cell phone with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider, and keep a backup written list in your glove compartment.
  • Always carry a well-stocked emergency kit and familiarize yourself with the use of safety flares, warning triangles and other emergency equipment. 

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Transportation Safety

When Americans talk about transportation problems, they generally focus on traffic.  Snarled highways, difficult commutes and gridlocked businesses and commercial districts add to driver frustration.  Yet there is a more serious problem involving American’s roads: motor vehicle crashes and vehicle-related injuries and fatalities.

In the first half of 2016, an estimated 17,775 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This represents an increase of about 10.4 percent as compared with the first half of 2015. In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 2.44 million people were injured.
Source: National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2016, September). Early estimate of motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first half (Jan–Jun) of 2016

Other sobering facts:

  • Each year, motor vehicle crashes cost Americans $242 billion in medical care, rehabilitation and lost wages.
  • About 90 people die from vehicle crashes each day in the U.S.— resulting in the highest death rate among comparison countries, one fatality every 16 minutes.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death in Americans younger than 30. (Source)
  • Traffic crashes are a public health challenge, killing more children and young adults than any other single cause in the United States. While vast improvements in traffic safety have been made over the last few decades, there remains much work to be done.
  • Traffic crashes and other safety-related disruptions actually cost us more at the societal level than traffic congestion.
  • The 2011 AAA’s “Crashes vs. Congestion – What’s the Cost to Society?” report highlights the overwhelming and far-reaching economic impacts traffic-safety crashes have on our nation and encourages policymakers at all levels of government to ensure safety is a top priority.
  • The report calculates the cost of crashes for the same metropolitan areas covered by the well-known Urban Mobility Report conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute. The annual societal cost of traffic crashes is $299.5 billion, more than three times the $97.7 billion cost of congestion, according to a report released by AAA.
  • Safety improvements can reduce human tragedy, economic impact and congestion. About half of all congestion is “non-recurrent” ― not due to a physical reason such as bottlenecks or rush-hour traffic. Non-recurrent congestion is usually due to crashes ― and crashes are preventable.
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Buckle up: No major funding increase for fixing Missouri’s roads, bridges

Summer is approaching, a time when Missouri residents hit the road for a little rest and relaxation. It might be a rougher-than-expected journey, though, as legislators aren’t making transportation projects a priority during the 2017 session.

In the meantime, the Missouri Department of Transportation is using a reserve fund to maintain the state’s roads and bridges — money that’s supposed to go toward emergencies and natural disasters. MoDOT chief engineer Ed Hassinger said it’s not an issue right now, but will be if the department has to draw from it for another three years.

“Fatalities on our roadway system are up, and there are a lot of safety improvements that we’re just not able to get to that we would like to be able to get to,” he said. “That doesn’t even talk about the projects to spur economic development, people that want new interchanges to spur business or things that we need to do to reduce congestion in our major urban centers.”

Missouri has the seventh largest highway system in the United States, and the cost of maintaining it has increased while the money Missouri sees from its 17.3 cents per gallon fuel tax — close to the bottom in the nation —hasn’t.

Two years ago, transportation commissioners moved to a drastically reduced maintenance plan. Only 8,000 miles of roads would be fully maintained, and the remaining 26,000 would only see pothole repairs and snow removal.

It was  scrapped due to the passage of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, but the $1 billion in federal money isn’t enough for Missouri to afford to take on any major transportation projects, only maintain its full 34,000 miles of roads.

The future of roads

The state, however, has  virtually nothing to put toward planning for and contracting out new projects. Plus, there are no plans on how to improve Interstate 70, which runs the length of the state and is very popular; roughly 75,000 vehicles a day drove along some part of I-70 in the St. Louis area in 2015.

Hassinger calls I-70 the poster child for Missouri’s transportation funding woes, but warned there’s more to consider.

“It’s really not just I-70; I-44 is not that far behind,” he said. “It’s a huge issue, because the interstates are where commerce moves in this state, that’s where freight moves, that’s how we efficiently move people and services around the state, so it’s a critical part of our system that we really need to figure out how we’re going to reconstruct that.”

Two options to help pay for I-70 have been floated and roundly rejected by lawmakers in recent years: raising the state’s fuel tax and turning I-70 into a toll road.

But most of the GOP-majority legislature considers toll roads to be another form of taxation. Republican Rep. Bryan Spencer of Wentzville recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Missouri Times explaining his opposition to them, and Republicans have gone so far as to propose a ban in the state budget on the use of state or federal money for “any costs associated with the tolling of interstate highways.”

Neither option is ideal for various special interests, from the trucking industry to local governments, according to lobbyist Leonard Toenjes, the president of Associated General Contractors of Missouri.

“All these different special interest groups just keep us in sort of a circular firing squad situation, where we continue to keep the guns aimed inward while other states — Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas — all continue to make investments in their systems,” Toenjes said.

Contractors feel the pinch, too

Putting more money toward roads and bridges could help minority-owned businesses, said Lionel Phillips. He runs Phillips Concrete Services in St. Louis, and said he’s never received a contract from MoDOT.

“I put it on myself, I don’t put it on anybody else,” he said. “I can’t put it on contractors, whatever, because the name of the game is having a competitive bid, but if there’s more opportunities to bid, I’ll figure out how to get selected.”

Even big contractors are feeling neglected. Chip Jones with Emory Sapp and Sons, which does road and bridge construction for several states including Missouri, said the company has only five contracts here this year.

“We can usually handle anywhere, depending on the size of the project, (from) five to 15 easily,” he said. “Unfortunately the size of the projects were more of a maintain (type), so it’s just piecemealing the existing infrastructure, (and) so the size and the scope is way down.”

Jones said he understands why lawmakers and voters don’t want to raise taxes, but believes better roads are a highway for growth in other critical areas.

“Sometimes I think people want the education before the highways, but I truly believe if you go look at other states, once the highway program is in place, the businesses come, then the improvement in living, and the schools improve as well,” he said.

Some lawmakers filed major transportation funding bills in January, but nearly all have gone nowhere, and aren’t likely to see action with only three weeks left in session.

Interstate 70 near Rochesport, Missouri.
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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Motorcycle riders are encouraged to ‘Get Trained and Ride Safe’ while other road users are encouraged to share the road safely, for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May.

Motorcyclists have the same rights as any other vehicle driver on the roads. This means they are entitled to their space on the road, despite the size of their vehicles. During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month – and throughout the rest of the year – drivers of all other vehicles are reminded to ‘share the road’ with motorcyclists, and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe.

Across the United States, law enforcement will be conducting special enforcement operations during the month. Extra officers will be patrolling areas frequented by motorcyclists and where motorcycle crashes occur. Officers will be looking for violations made by drivers and riders that can lead to motorcycle crashes. They will be cracking down on both those operating regular vehicles and motorcycles who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, making illegal turns, or any other dangerous violation.

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COLUMBIA — A flash flood warning was issued for six counties Saturday afternoon, including Boone County, by the National Weather Service following storms.

Two to 3 inches of rain had already fallen across the counties between late Friday night and Saturday afternoon, according to a bulletin from the National Weather Service. Up to 2 additional inches could fall through Saturday evening.

More than 20 roads were closed Saturday afternoon in Boone County because of flooding, according to the Boone County Office of Emergency Management’s website.

Updated Information:

This article was updated at 5:30 p.m. to include that Gov. Eric Greitens declared a state of emergency.

The weather service urged motorists to avoid driving through flooded roadways.

Gov. Eric Greitens declared a state of emergency on Saturday evening in an executive order. The State Emergency Management Agency, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri National Guard, and Missouri’s Task Force 1 Rescue Unit were deployed to assist in relief efforts, Greitens said in a news release.

There had been 93 evacuations and 33 rescues throughout the state by Saturday evening, Greitens said the release.

Heavy rain is expected to continue through Sunday, and a flash flood watch is in effect until Monday morning. Rainfall totals could reach 3 to 5 inches, according to the weather service.

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MoDOT News Release 

MoDOT Customer Service, 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636)

May 01, 2017 03:44 PM

Major Road Closures Will Affect Tuesday Morning Commutes
Check Conditions On Traveler Information Map

JEFFERSON CITY – Heavy rains over the weekend still have more than 300 roads closed across the state. Currently Interstate 44 is closed between Rolla and Lebanon and is not expected to reopen until mid to late week. Travelers need to make plans to find alternate routes around these closures for work and school commutes on Tuesday morning. Motorists should check Missouri’s Traveler Information Map at before traveling.

I-44 in St. Louis County is expected to close after evening rush on Monday and remain closed for the rest of week. The full interstate closure distance is from I-270 to Route 100. Only local traffic will be allowed westbound past I-270 to Bowles along with one eastbound lane of I-44 to Pacific, Eureka and Route 109.

Travelers headed across Missouri should avoid using I-44 due to the closures in St. Louis and between Rolla and Lebanon. Please use Interstate 70 between St. Louis and Kansas City and then use Interstate 435 to Interstate 49 to Joplin to reconnect to Interstate 44.

The following are some of the major routes that will be closed and affect Tuesday morning’s commute:

  • I-44 between Rolla and Lebanon
  • I-44 in St. Louis County will close overnight
  • Route 141 at I-44 in St. Louis County
  • Route 30/Gravois in St. Louis County at Meramec River will close overnight
  • Route 21/Tesson Ferry in St. Louis County at Meramec River will close overnight
  • Route 109 in Eureka in St. Louis County will close overnight
  • Route 63 near Vienna, between Rolla and Jefferson City
  • Route 50 at Mount Sterling in Gasconade County


Most of the major routes are not expected to reopen until late in the week due to rising waters on the major rivers. Updates will be provided to the public as major routes continue to close.

Motorists are reminded that not all flooded roads will have closure signs. MoDOT cautions all travelers to never drive through water on the roadway. Turn around and find an alternate route. Remember the slogan, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” Flash flooding is particularly dangerous at night or the early morning hours when motorists often cannot see they are driving into floodwaters until it’s too late. Less than a foot of moving water is enough to push a vehicle.

When the water recedes, MoDOT will inspect the pavement and bridges for safety before opening the roadways for public use.

Missourians should take these precautions in areas affected by flooding:

  • Low water crossings are among the most dangerous spots. Never attempt to cross one that is flooded.
  • Never drive past a barricade closing flooded roads. They are there to protect you.
  • Never expect barriers to block off flooded low-water crossings, bridges or roads because flash flood waters often rise so quickly authorities do not have time to respond.
  • If your vehicle becomes stuck in rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground because rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.
  • In the rain, if your wipers are in use your headlights should be on too. It’s the law.            You can also call 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636) for up-to-date information.
  •             Check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map to stay current on all flooding closures at The map is also available as a free app on iTunes and Google play listed as MoDOT Traveler Information.
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U.S. DOT campaign urges motorists to stop at railroad crossings

U.S. DOT campaign urges motorists to stop at railroad crossings

U.S. DOT campaign urges motorists to stop at railroad crossings

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has launched a campaign aimed at young male motorists, urging them to make the right choice at railroad crossings.

The campaign, named “Stop! Trains Can’t”, is the latest in a two-year effort by the DOT to reduce incidents, and ultimately fatalities, at railroad crossings around the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have partnered on the nationwide effort.

Although rail incidents have declined over the last 10 years, railroad crossing fatalities spiked in 2014. Last year alone, 232 people died in railroad crossing accidents, and approximately every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States.

“Too many people are still taking unnecessary risks and needlessly paying with their lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These deaths are preventable, and this ad campaign is a reminder for everyone that ignoring signage at railroad crossings or attempting to race or beat a train can have deadly consequences.”

The $7-million media campaign targets males ages 18 to 49-years-old in states where the nation’s 15 most dangerous crossings are located, as well as the states that had 75 percent of the crossing incidents in 2015. The ad will run in the following states: California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Jersey, Arkansas and Arizona.

“Your life is worth more than a few saved minutes, and trying to outrun a train isn’t worth the risk,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. “When a train is coming, the only choice is to stop. Trains can’t.”

By law, trains always have the right of way because they cannot swerve, stop quickly or change directions to avert collisions. A freight train travelling at 55 mph takes a mile—the length of 18 football fields or more— to come to a stop even with the emergency brake applied.

U.S. DOT campaign urges motorists to stop at railroad crossings

For more information on the “Stop! Trains Can’t” campaign, visit

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Missouri survey finds teen safety belt use is on the up


The 2016 Missouri Teen Safety Belt Survey is complete. The safety belt usage for all teenage drivers and teenage front seat passengers combined was 70.4 per cent. This is a 1.4 per cent increase when compared to 69 per cent in 2015.

“We’re very excited to see these numbers go up,” said MoDOT Youth Program Coordinator Kacey Buschjost. “Teenagers are our most inexperienced and vulnerable drivers, so it’s vital that they, and all drivers, be buckled up every trip, every time.”

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety promotes several programs to educate young drivers on the importance of roadway safety. The following programs can attribute to the increase in safety belt usage in Missouri.

First Impact is a traffic safety program that educates parents about Missouri’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) law and provides the tools they need to monitor, coach and support their new teen driver. Missouri GDL law is a three-step licensing system. The purpose is to ease teens into licensure so that they can build skill in an environment that minimizes those things that are shown to cause the greatest risk for new drivers. Research confirms that GDL laws have been instrumental in reducing teen crashes by 20 to 40 percent.

The It Only Takes One campaign is a competition between Missouri high schools that gives student groups the opportunity to educate teens, parents and their community about the dangers teens face while driving. The competition includes educational campaigns, surprise safety belt surveys and the creation of a public service announcement. It’s important that teen drivers realize it only takes one text, one drink, one call, one reach, one distraction to cause one fatal moment. But, that one clicked seat belt could be the difference between life and death in a car crash.

Team Spirit is a statewide youth traffic safety leadership training program committed to empowering youth to promote safe driving habits. After an initial training session, Team Spirit youth create and implement action plans for their school and community in an effort to reduce death and serious injury resulting from traffic crashes. Team Spirit is available to all schools in Missouri.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for youth (15-20) in Missouri, accounting for nearly 11.8 per cent of traffic fatalities during the last three years. Many factors including inexperience, alcohol, speeding, cell phones, and other countless distractions all contribute to these crashes, with many resulting in death. A safety belt is the best defense in a traffic crash. Buckle up and ARRIVE ALIVE.

For more information on highway safety or any of the programs offered, please visit

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