NORTHBROOK, Ill. (May 21, 2007) – Bright sunny days and carefree summer vacations often can create a false sense of security for teen drivers. Yet summer has a dark side for many teens, as statistics show the summer months are the worst for teen automobile fatalities (1). Automobile crashes are the number one killer of teenagers in the U.S. with nearly 6,000 teens killed every year (2) and more than 300,000 injured (3). This tragedy is compounded by the fact that many crashes are preventable. Driver error, speeding and distractions are the main causes of teen crashes (4), and seemingly simple activities such as switching radio stations or interacting with friends can significantly impair a teen´s ability to react quickly to changing traffic conditions.

May has been designated National Youth Traffic Safety Month to raise awareness about these issues among teenagers and parents alike. Allstate is partnering with Discovery Education and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) on two initiatives designed to create a dialogue about safe driving and ultimately reduce the number of automobile crashes involving teens.

"Drive It Right: Talking to Teens about Safe Driving" was created by Discovery and Allstate as a comprehensive educational program designed to urge teens to understand, discuss and identify safe driving solutions. The program´s DVD provides very candid and hard-hitting real-life stories behind the accident statistics. Approximately 19,500 U.S. high school principals recently received the "Drive It Right" DVD and resource guide to help their students stay safe while driving this summer.

In addition, Discovery Education will pre-empt its Emmy-award winning Assignment Discovery program the week of May 28 to air the "Drive It Right" video. (Assignment Discovery airs on the Discovery Channel every school day of the year, and content can be recorded and used in classrooms for up to one year.)

"The summer months are when young drivers are at most risk, and with events such as graduation and prom in the coming weeks, it´s vital for teens and their parents to be aware of the dangers," said George Ruebenson, president of Allstate Protection, Allstate Insurance Company. "Allstate is committed to promoting safe driving and our hope is that the ´Drive It Right´ resource guide and DVD, which is narrated by teens for teens, will engage students in discussion and underscore the importance of safe and responsible driving."

"We are proud to have partnered with Allstate on the development of this powerful and timely resource for each and every high school," said Bill Goodwyn, president of Domestic Distribution and Enterprises, Discovery Communications, Inc. "We´re asking entire communities to get involved and screen the DVD at safe driving events before the school year ends, with the goal of bringing everyone back safely in the fall."

The "Drive It Right" Web site, www.discoveryschool.com/100days, is designed for educators and offers all resource materials in downloadable form, video clips, resources for parents and a feedback area to share strategies from teachers around the country who are working to spread the word about teen safe driving.

Rewarding Local Commitment to Teen Safe Driving

Allstate also is working with National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) to sponsor awards for 2007 National Youth Traffic Safety Month community projects. Local Allstate agencies will present 50 awards of $1,000 to teens or organizations in their community for developing exceptional National Youth Traffic Safety Month programs. Youth organizations can learn more and apply for a grant by visiting www.NOYS.org. The application deadline is May 31.

"National Organizations for Youth Safety is honored to work with Allstate to endorse the ´Drive It Right´ materials, and we appreciate the leadership Allstate has shown in encouraging and rewarding youth leaders who are creating National Youth Traffic Safety Month projects in their communities," said Sandy Spavone, executive director, National Organizations for Youth Safety.

Help for the Parents

Parents also need to play a large role in developing their teen´s safe driving behaviors. According to The Allstate Foundation, although parents acknowledge that they must play a significant role in preparing their teens to drive, many delay safe driving conversations with their teens until shortly before licensure. Parents also understand they are role models on the road, yet their driving behaviors send the wrong message. For example, 71 percent admit to talking on a cell phone while driving with their teens, and 26 percent say they have broken the law with their teens in the car (5).

Parents can request a copy of the "Drive It Right" DVD from their local Allstate® agent or visit www.Allstate.com/teen for tips on how to talk to their teens about this issue and engage their community to create a culture of safe driving. To help parents further, Allstate has created a Parent-Teen Driving Contract, which features the key areas for discussion and agreement to ensure a safer drive for teens. The Parent-Teen Driving Contract also is available from local Allstate® agencies or www.Allstate.com/teen. Additionally, Allstate® Your Choice Auto Insurance can reward safe drivers through its Safe Driver BonusSM, providing a financial incentive for parents for every six months of accident-free driving. And, if an accident does occur, rates won´t increase for those with Accident Forgiveness as part of Your Choice Auto®.

Teen Road Realities:

– A majority of teens admit to risky driving behaviors (6)

– Fifty-six percent make and answer phone calls while driving (7)

– Fifty-five percent exceed the speed limit by more than 10 mph (8)

– The area of the human brain that controls multitasking, impulse control and the ability to envision consequences – areas crucial for driving – is still developing well into an individual´s 20s (9)

– Talking on a cell phone increases the likelihood of an accident by four times and slows the average person´s reaction time to that of a 70-year-old (10)

About Allstate

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation´s largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Widely known through the "You´re In Good Hands With Allstate®" slogan, Allstate helps individuals in approximately 17 million households protect what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow through approximately 14,800 exclusive agencies and financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada. Customers can access Allstate products and services such as auto insurance and homeowners insurance through Allstate agencies, or in select states at allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®. Encompass® and Deerbrook® Insurance brand property and casualty products are sold exclusively through independent agents. The Allstate Financial Group provides life insurance, supplemental accident and health insurance, annuity, banking and retirement products designed for individual, institutional and worksite customers that are distributed through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, financial institutions and broker-dealers.

About the Allstate Foundation

The Allstate Foundation is an independent, private, non-profit organization funded by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. Since 1952, the Foundation has developed and funded programs in communities across the United States. Today, the Foundation focuses on three areas: safe and vital communities; tolerance, inclusion and diversity; and economic empowerment.

About Discovery Education

Discovery Education is a division of Discovery Communications, the leading global real-world and knowledge-based media company. The leader in digital video-based learning, Discovery Education produces and distributes high-quality digital video content in easy-to-use formats, in all core-curricular subject areas. Discovery Education is committed to creating scientifically proven, standards-based digital resources for teachers, students, and parents that make a positive impact on student learning. Through strategic partnerships with public television stations across the country, its public service initiatives, products, and joint business ventures, Discovery Education helps educators around the world harness the power of broadband and media to connect their students to a world of learning. For more information, visit www.discoveryeducation.com.

About National Organizations for Youth Safety

National Organizations for Youth Safety? (NOYS) is a coalition of national organizations and federal agencies who serve youth and focus on youth safety and health. Through this coalition, NOYS influences more than 80 million young people and their adult advisors. The mission of NOYS is to promote youth empowerment and leadership, and build partnerships that save lives, prevent injuries, and enhance safe and healthy lifestyles among all youth.

About the Author:

eSchool News