"Sure I’ll drive more safely...as soon as I send this text message."
Drivers demonstrate the critical need for increased traffic safety awareness among teens.
Teens want to speak out on behalf of safe driving to prevent car crashes - the No. 1 killer of teens - yet they don’t perceive the deadliest driving choices to be unsafe, a recent survey suggests.
A survey of drivers ages 16 and 17, conducted on behalf of National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and The Allstate Foundation, indicates alarming attitudes among newly licensed drivers. While four out of five teens (86 percent) claim they would drive more safely at the request of a teen passenger, few teens would curtail the deadliest driving behaviors, suggesting teens misperceive the associated risks:
* Only one-third of teens say they would stop text messaging while driving (33 percent) or stop talking on their mobile phone while driving (35 percent) at the request of a teen passenger.
* Only about half of teens say they would keep their eyes on the road (49 percent) or stop speeding (46 percent) at the request of a passenger.
* Just a quarter of teens say they would fasten their seatbelt (24 percent) at the request of a teen passenger.
Risky Summer Driving Behaviors
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the past decade, seven of the top 10 deadliest days for youth traffic-related deaths historically fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day. According to the survey administered on behalf of NOYS and The Allstate Foundation, teens polled admit they will engage in increased risky behaviors that can result in deadly consequences more often during the summer, further supporting the critical need for increased traffic safety awareness among teen drivers during these months of increased risks.
* Two-thirds of teens (65 percent) will drive more often in the summer.
* Approximately half of teens will have teen passengers present and drive in the dark more frequently.
* Some teens say they will speed (20 percent), talk on a mobile phone (16 percent) or text message while driving (9 percent) more often during the summer.
“Every unsafe driving choice has the potential to be deadly,” said Sandy Spavone, executive director of NOYS. “Teens are on the road a lot more during the summer, often in vehicles filled with friends and distractions. Teens must help their peers understand that each unsafe choice- one cell phone call, an unbuckled seatbelt, or additional passengers- can mean the difference between life and death.”
Positive Peer Pressure: “Act Out Loud”
In May, NOYS will lead the second annual National Youth Traffic Safety Month. As part of this effort, in partnership with “High School Musical” star Lucas Grabeel, NOYS is sponsoring “Act Out Loud: Raising Voices for Safe Teen Driving.” Funded by The Allstate Foundation, the activism initiative rewards teens who create the nation’s best teen-led, school-based safe driving projects.
“The ’Act Out Loud’ program is all about empowering teens - to speak up for safe driving, to take action in their communities, and to reduce the number of deadly car crashes this summer,” said Grabeel. “Everyone in the car plays a role in getting to the final destination safely. Passengers need to speak up if they feel unsafe, and drivers need to listen to their passengers. No text message, no unfastened seatbelt is worth dying over.”
Across the nation, the top 10 teen-led teams have been documenting their activism projects through blog, photo and video postings at www.ActOutLoud.org. The public is encouraged to vote for their favorite safe driving team online May 1-9, 2008. These online votes will determine which teams will receive money to further their safe driving efforts. The first place team will receive $10,000, the second place team will receive $5,000 and the third place team will receive $3,000. A $5,000 grant also will be awarded to the national traffic safety-related organization identified by the winning team. The top 10 finalist teams are:
* Bishop McNamara High School (Forestville, Md.) students hosted a teen driving safety forum on as a service learning program to teach others how to launch safety programs in their own schools.
* Bloomingdale High School (Valrico, Fla.) team created a safe driving program promoted through daily segments on the school’s television station and t-shirts with safe driving messages.
* Chelsea Public School (Chelsea, Vt.) students in partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s department produced two short videos on sheriff department’s Web site encouraging seat belt usage.
* Dermott High School (Dermott, Ark.) showcased a week of skits and activities during prom week to share alcohol- and drug-related crash information to the student body.
* Kearney High School (Kearney, Neb.) promoted its “Always Alert Always Alive” campaign through a mock crash and a teen safety scavenger hunt.
* Notre Dame Preparatory (Scottsdale, Ariz.) conducted several activities, including the placement of 16 crosses in front of the school chapel, representing the 16 teens who die in crashes every day.
* The Okeechobee High School (Okeechobee, Fla.) Crime Watch team invited juniors and seniors to participate in a simulated impaired driving course before prom.
* The Oxford Academy (Cypress, Calif.) team gave presentations to drivers’ education courses and health classes to educate and encourage students to practice safe driving habits.
* Richmond High School (Richmond, Ind.) reached the student body about safe driving through a blood drive, mock car crash and visual promotion.
* The Wayne High School (Huber Heights, Ohio) team created a video “After Prom” which aired during prom events, showcasing the resulting scenarios based on choices about drinking and driving.
About the Survey
The survey polled 610 teen drivers, ages 16 and 17, across the United States from March 18 - 25, 2008, with a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.
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