Teen Safe Driving

Motor vehicle crashes have long been the leading cause of death for American teenagers. Teens are about three times more likely than older drivers to be involved in fatal crashes. Yet in the last few years, teen driving fatalities have dramatically declined, due in part to The Allstate Foundation Teen Safe Driving Program. In 2005, The Allstate Foundation set a long-term goal of helping reduce teen driving deaths by 50 percent by 2015. In 2012, the last year for which we have data, that rate had declined by 47 percent. To put this change in perspective, in 2005, 5,300 teens died in car crashes; in 2012, only 2,823 lost their lives. That’s almost 2,500 more teens who came home safely in 20121.

Teen driving fatalities have declined by 47 percent since The Allstate Foundation began its Teen Safe Driving Program.

While we celebrate that success, we know there is more to do. We continued to reach out in 2013 to young people, parents, policy makers, our employees and agency owners, along with local communities, to promote safer teen driving in a variety of ways. The following are some examples of our program in action:

Peer-to-peer programs create awareness

Teenagers listen to each other, so peer-to-peer programs like our Act Out Loud contest are a powerful way to reach them. Through the program, more than 100,000 teens at more than 300 schools across the country spread the word about safe driving. Students designed T-shirts and posters and hosted rallies to encourage more teens to have a conversation with their peers about staying safe on the road.

Participating schools were judged on criteria including involvement of student bodies, the strength of teen safe driving messages, the creativity of activities, and community and school administration involvement.

Cookeville High School in Tennessee won the grand prize. Their student-led rally caught the attention of country music star Tim McGraw, who invited select Cookeville High School students to attend a webcast premiere of his new music video focused on the dangers of distracted driving. Allstate awarded a prize of $10,000 to support teen safe driving programs at Cookeville High School.

Educating and involving parents

Parents are the number one influence on teen drivers, yet they often have misconceptions about the risks young people face. For instance, many parents believe it’s unsafe for teens to drive by themselves, while in reality the crash risk increases dramatically with each additional teen in the car. Others think alcohol is involved in most teen crashes, while in fact drinking is a factor in only about 15 percent of them2. Similarly, texting while driving, widely assumed to be a major risk, accounts for a smaller number of teen accidents. Consequently, our programs are strategically focusing on the three major causes of teen crashes: speeding, failure to wear seatbelts, and the presence of too many teens in the car.

For instance, many parents assume their children are wearing seatbelts; however, 54 percent of teens involved in fatal accidents are not. Research shows that inexperience and inattention are the root cause of the vast majority of teen motor vehicle crashes. For this reason, parental coaching—at least 30 minutes a week in the car with the child driving—can help ensure that teens get the experience they need for a lifetime of safe driving.

To give parents the tools to help their children drive more safely, The Allstate Foundation helped the National Safety Council launch Drive It Home. Designed by parents for parents, the unique program includes an interactive website—driveithome.org—featuring engaging videos, driving, practice tips and other valuable resources. The website uses humor to capture the attention of parents, educate them on the real dangers facing their teens on the road, and helps them provide ongoing coaching tips for recently licensed teens.

Innovative events and programs

The Allstate Foundation and National Safety Council promoted Drive It Home through events in 14 cities across the country. We commissioned Chicago’s Second City Communications comedy troupe to write and perform a script about coaching on better driving. At each event, The Allstate Foundation gave away gas cards and entered participants in a raffle to win a 2013 Chevrolet Cruze.

In 2013, more than 3,800 Allstate employees pledged to be “teen safe driving advocates” to the young people in their lives. 

We’re committed to finding new ways to help parents understand how their guidance can help ensure that their child comes home after every drive.

1 "Fatality Facts: Teenagers" Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2012 http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenagers

2 "Estimated percent and number of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers with BACs ≥ 0.08 percent by age group" Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2012 http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenagers

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