MRPC News Release

For immediate release
July 1, 2016

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge at (573) 265-2993

Informational program on Graduated Drivers License now available for parents of teen drivers

ST. JAMES—Did you know that crash rates for 15-19 year-old drivers are higher than any other age group? In 2014 in Missouri, one person was killed or injured in a crash involving a teen driver every hour. That was a total of 8,055 injuries and fatalities in Missouri in 2014.

Missouri has a Graduated Drivers License (GDL) law, and research shows that GDL laws have been instrumental in reducing teen crashes by 20 percent to 40 percent. Unfortunately, many parents of teen drivers are not aware of the GDL.

Think First Missouri, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation, has developed a new informational program for parents of teen drivers. The new program, called First Impact, explains Missouri’s GDL law and helps develop a partnership between the parent and the teen driver that encourages safe driving habits.

Katrina Rowland, director of the First Impact program, introduced the new program at the Central District’s Coalition for Roadway Safety sub-district meeting on June 1 at Meramec Regional Planning Commission in St. James.

“Graduated driver licenses are newer to Missouri, and we have a program to help teens and parents understand it,” Rowland said. The one-hour program was developed using parent focus groups so first-hand information could be gathered  regarding what parents knew about the GDL and what they did not know.

The program:

  • Teaches parents about risks their teens face;
  • Invites law enforcement to cover what each law entails;
  • Explains how law enforcement monitors and enforces GDL law;
  • Discusses the importance of positive role models for teens; and
  • How to begin a driving log and have a parent/teen agreement.

Rowland asked the coalition group, which included representatives from schools and law enforcement, to help arrange meetings so the information could be shared with parents of teen drivers.

The group also discussed other safe driving awareness programs, aimed at children and teens. Those include “It Only Takes One,” docudrama and safety day workshops and Buckle Buddy presentations.

In its second year, “It Only Takes One” encourages safe driving choices, such as wearing your seatbelt, not texting and driving and not driving while impaired. “It Only Takes One” replaced the Battle of the Belt program, which aimed to increase seat belt usage in high school students.

“It only takes one call, one text, one distraction to have an accident,” said Becky Lenon, an education and outreach coordinator with the Missouri Department of Transportation. Lenon coordinates the Central District’s Coalition for Roadway Safety activities. Like Battle of the Belt, “It Only Takes One”  still includes the seat belt competition. Schools will soon be able to register for “It Only Takes One”  on the website.

For the last two years, MRPC has offered docudrama and safety training workshops to help schools and emergency responders develop local docudramas and safety day events. Additionally, MRPC offers the Buckle Buddy program to schools, library and day cares, to encourage the proper use of child safety seats. The program, centered around a story, a song and other activities involving Buddy, the dragon, teaches pre-K through second graders why they should be in a safety or booster seat when riding in a vehicle.

“We are the boots on the ground to help you coordinate these types of projects, and we welcome your ideas,” said Bonnie Prigge, MRPC executive director.

For more information or to schedule an event, contact Prigge at 573-265-2993 or email

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. A professional staff of 21, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.

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