AAA, NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Driver David Ragan To Educate Teens Nationwide On Driver Safety
Car crashes are a leading cause of death among 15-20 year-olds, and one of NASCAR’s youngest stars is working with AAA to combat the problem.
David Ragan, 21, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion in the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, is taking time this season to speak with young people across the nation about the importance of safe driving and vehicle maintenance inspections. Ragan finished fifth in this year’s Daytona 500 race on Feb. 18.
Ragan has already made stops at high schools in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Las Vegas, to speak with students, demonstrate safe driving techniques and discuss why maintenance inspections are especially important for the vehicles they are most likely to drive. Additional events are being planned throughout the year as Ragan travels the nation on the racing circuit.
Ragan began his racing career in the Bandolero Series at the age of 11, and quickly advanced through the ranks driving Legends Cars at age 13, Late Model Stock Cars at age 16 and the ARCA RE/MAX Series at age 18. He joined Roush Fenway Racing in 2006, and at 20 years old was named the driver of the team’s legendary No. 6 car for 2007.
“I know the challenges young drivers face. There are a lot of temptations and distractions that can cause inexperienced drivers to loose focus. Managing the driving environment and anticipating what can happen on the road is as important for teen drivers as it is for professional race car drivers,” Ragan said.
“Part of the process is being mentally prepared to drive, buckling up and thinking about the conditions under which you will be driving. It also has to do with not allowing your attention to wander from the road, anticipate turns, change lanes or know when to slow down or speed up. AAA has training materials that can help teens master these skills and become safer drivers at AAA.com,” he said,
Ragan also is highlighting the importance of safety inspections and maintenance on the vehicles teens drive. “In racing, we rely on trained professionals to prepare and maintain our vehicles. Teens also need to have their vehicles inspected and maintained by qualified technicians. Many young people start by driving older cars and trucks with a lot of miles on them. They need to have brakes, steering components and suspensions checked. Tires, lights, fluid lines and other items that can wear out need attention too. That’s something AAA’s Approved Auto Repair program can help them with.”
“By driving for AAA and its 50 million members this year - and taking the opportunities they are providing to speak with teen drivers - I’m hoping I can shorten the learning curve and improve the margin of safety for people not much younger than myself.”
Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration illustrates the need for Ragan’s positive message:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data show that, on average, more than 300,000 teens are injured in car crashes each year, nearly 8,000 are involved in fatal crashes and more than 3,500 are killed.
NHTSA research also shows that teen drivers are involved in more than five times as many fatal crashes as adults. Young drivers are more likely to speed, run red lights, make illegal turns, and die in an SUV rollover.
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