A new initiative is focused squarely on teen drivers in Alabama, most at risk of having a fatal collision. In fact, Alabama has the second highest rate of teen traffic fatalities in the nation, although it has far fewer teen drivers than states like New York, California, Florida and Texas.

This frightening statistic has Alabama lawmakers and police taking a long, hard look at teen driving in their state. They are looking at ways to better enforce existing laws, and creating a public awareness campaign aimed at teaching teen drivers they face increased risk behind the wheel.

The Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians is teaming up with Allstate Insurance to offer a $25,000 to provide pediatricians that includes tools and resources to discuss safe driving habits with their teenage patients. This is meant as a direct assault on the dangers of teenage drivers, but it is not the only way to address the problem. As a result of this grant, the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians has teamed with the Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama Safe Kids and Children’s of Alabama pediatric hospital to get their message across to teen drivers. The Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics was one of eight groups in the country to receive a safe driving grant from the Allstate Foundation.

Alabama already has a graduated driver license program for teen drivers. It also has been increasing focus on distracted driving, seat belt usage among teen drivers and the use of drugs and alcohol by teenagers. All of these things combine to increase the risk for teenagers when they take to the road.

Defensive driving is a crucial skill that every driver, regardless of experience, needs before they take to the roads. The fact that teen drivers are hitting the roads without it is likely what is causing an update in their number of traffic fatalities.