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Teaching safe driving tactics early: National Teen Driver Safety Week

Joined together by tragedy, after losing their sons in fatal car accidents. Two moms are working to educate families on National Teen Driver Safety Week.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — This week marks National Teen Driver Safety Week

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number one killer of teenagers (15-18) is car crashes. Not injury, or illness -- but a car crash. 

FOX43 spoke with two mothers who are now working together to help spread awareness, while educating families on teen driver safety hoping to prevent others from the tragic loss they both experienced. 

Tracy Linn and Missy Sweitzer both work for the Center for Traffic Safety in York County, and they both got hired on the same day. Little did they know at the time, but they both shared something in common. Not something you'd typically think would be the start of an amazing friendship... but they are using what they went through to prevent other families 

“We understand and we’re so passionate about what we do… I’m blessed to be able to work with her," said Sweitzer while holding back tears. 

Linn ad Sweitzer both share a common goal -- to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities. Both moms lost their sons in fatal car crashes, saying no parent is ever prepared to get that phone call. 

“It was early Thanksgiving morning, my husband got the phone call.. I could hear him on the phone… yes yes Zachary is our son... he drives a white pick up… ok ok… I knew before he had gotten back to our room it was 6:30 in the morning, that it was that phone call no parent ever wants to get I just sensed it in my gut," Sweitzer said. 

“The ultimate cause was speeding, the driver was going about 85 mph in a 35 mph zone, lost control going around a sight curve, the car went into a skid and the car ended up hitting a tree on Jakes side and he was killed instantly," said Linn. 

Sweitzer said she used to tell her son Zachary who was a firefighter, to wear his seatbelt all the time because he wouldn't 

“I used to tell him you know you pick people off the pavement all the time Zachary.. it was the old adage don’t worry mom it won’t happen to me," said Sweitzer. 

Just by wearing your seatbelt experts say, it will increase your chance of survival if you get into an accident by 50%. 

Sweitzer said it is crucial to reach teenagers early -- talk to them, help them learn how to be safe before they develop any bad habits. 

“Get them out there on the road get them in all types of circumstances and situations, take them on 83… maybe not the first day, I wouldn’t suggest that but get out there and be involved," explained Sweitzer. 

They say parents and siblings need to show good behavior, talk to them about being safe, avoiding distractions, and encourage having minimal passengers in the car. All of these tips can all help with preventing an accident. 

Sweitzer said, “You don’t have to be the cool kid, its really kind of cool from the moms perspective if you drive like I’m in the car every single time."

Linn adds, "One big thing is, if you’re not ready…… don’t do it, trust your gut." 

“Don’t think you’re invincible don’t think it can’t or it won’t happen to you Zac and Jake are two examples that it does happen and it doesn’t have to. So do everything you can in your own power to prevent something tragic from happening," said Sweitzer.

Both agreed that having that "invincible mentality" is not good. You can do the right thing 999 times but it takes one wrong time for something tragic to happen, Sweitzer said. 

The conversation on teen driver safety doesn't have to stop at the end of the week that is devoted to spreading awareness on the issue. There are a number of driving safety resources for teens and parents too. 

Sweitzer holds an annual blood drive in memory of Zac every year, the day after Thanksgiving. You can find more info about how to donate here

Download the brand new FOX43 app here.

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