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October 26, 2013

Teen Driver Safety Week Encourages Safe Teen Driving Every Week of the Year

Teen_Driver_safety_Week-student_driver-thinkstock-153681188As Teen Driver Safety Week comes to a close, I remember clearly how afraid I was the first time I handed my newly licensed teenaged son the keys to the car for his first solo drive.

I wasn’t afraid because I thought he was an unsafe driver; in fact, he was a careful driver who had received good instruction and lots of practice time behind the wheel. I was afraid because so much of being a “good” driver comes with experience -- which then teaches how to pay attention and be prepared for all the things that can be caused by other drivers -- and he didn’t have that experience yet. During their first months of licensure, teens have a particularly high risk of accidents. Five years later, much to my relief, he remains ticket- and crash-free.


Parents are right to be worried: Car accidents are a leading killer of American teens! But there is much we can do to keep our kids safe. When I was instructing my son, we talked a lot about what was happening on the road around us, and we talked about those “what if” scenarios that can pop up unexpectedly. However, staying focused on driving is the most important safety aspect while behind the wheel, and all drivers these days are faced with more distractions than ever before.

Teen_Driver_Safety-texting_while_driving-thinkstock-153567079_sAccording to The Allstate Foundation, texting while driving can take your eyes off the road for an average of three to five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field—completely blind. Additionally, the presence of even one passenger in a teenager’s car increases the chance of a fatal crash, and the presence of just one male passenger nearly doubles those odds

Regardless of the distraction -- from texting while driving, to listening to music, to having extra passengers in the car -- research indicates that 86 percent of teens have driven while distracted. Throughout the week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been highlighting information that parents can use to open a conversation with their kids about the risks they may face on the road.

Teen Driving Safety week may be nearly over, but it’s not too late to discuss the importance of staying focused while driving. Need some guidance?  The “Teen Driving” page on SaferCar.gov has gathered a great collection of resources for parents to start the conversation about safe driving. You might also want to join your teenager to watch some of the Teen Safety Driving videos from NHTSA's YouTube Channel.

Allstate-Parent_Teen_AgreementMany insurance companies, such as AAA, Allstate, Geico, and State Farm, as well as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention offer safety contracts that parents and teenagers can sign to show agreement on such important issues as cellphones and texting; music, food, and distractions; passengers and time of day restrictions; seat belt use and speed limits; and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There’s even a grassroots safety site at IPromiseProgram that offers a comprehensive parent-youth safety contract meant to encourage discussion and education. Download one of these forms and have a discussion with your teen driver to ensure they

Also, now is the time to remind all parents how important it is for us as adults to set a good example behind the wheel. According to Allstate, approximately four out of five teens said their parents are the best influence in getting them to be safer drivers. How do your teenagers see you driving?

A recent survey by Bridgestone surveyed more than 2,000 parents of teen drivers to find out more about driving behaviors. You might find the results surprising:

• Only 39 percent of parents think their teen driver talks on the phone while driving, yet half of all young drivers admit to doing so. Meanwhile, 44 percent of parents admit to talking on a cell phone, but 60 percent of teens said they witnessed their parent chatting behind the wheel.

• Nearly all parents claim that driving distracted is unacceptable, yet 94 percent of parents admit to driving distracted anyway.

In a separate teen distracted driver study conducted at Teens Drive a Smart earlier this year, two-thirds of teens said that they model their driving habits from their parents.

Scholarships and Contests to promote Teen Driver Safety

Bridgestone-Teens_drive_smartBridgestone has been working to bring awareness to distracted driving for nearly a decade through its annual Teens Drive Smart Video Contest and Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience. For more information about the Teens Drive Smart Parent Survey or the annual video contest, visit www.teensdrivesmart.com. This contest usually runs during the summer months, so keep your eyes peeled for information about the 2014 contest to be announced early in the year.

Beginning next week, students can enter the annual scholarship competition at Project Yellow Light. Cash prizes are offered to teens who make compelling videos that persuade their peers to save lives and put an end to distracted driving. Sponsored in partnership with the Ad CouncilMazdaNational Highway Traffic Safety Administrationand National Organizations for Youth Safety, this year’s contest opens October 31. 

Project_yellow_light-hunter_garner_scholarshipTo raise awareness among teen drivers, Project Yellow Light has created a scholarship program in which high school and college students can create a video to encourage their friends to avoid distracted driving.  For both the high school and college contests, the first-place winner will receive a scholarship in the amount of $5,000, each second-place finisher will receive $2,000, and each third-place finisher will receive $1,000. In addition to a scholarship, the winning video will be turned into an Ad Council PSA and will be distributed nationally to more than 1,600 television stations. The top two winners will also earn the opportunity to attend a one-day survival skills class at the Skip Barber Racing School. Visit ProjectYellowLight.com for details.

Toyota_teen_Driver_logoToyota also sponsors an annual teen driver video challenge encouraging young drivers to inspire others and make a difference. If your friends were going to watch ONE video that made them think twice about making bad decisions behind the wheel, what would that video be? The Toyota Teen Driver Challenge encourages students to create a 60-90 second video on their own or with up to three friends.

The prizes are awesome! The first place winner will earn $15,000 and the chance to work with a Discovery film crew to reshoot your video into a TV-ready PSA! The second-place winner will receive $10,000 and a behind-the-scenes trip for two to a Discovery Channel Velocity show! And the third-place winner will receive $7,500. Registration ends March 13, 2014.

 

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