All too often, news headlines tell of another teen killed in a car crash. It is estimated that 35 percent of teen casualties are due to vehicular driving accidents, making it the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Through their participation in a high school program called Project Ignition, thousands of young people have stood up to this statistic and worked tirelessly to change the driving behaviors of their peers and broader communities.
If you have a teen driver in your family who you want to help become safer on the road, here are some tips from students in Project Ignition:
Open the lines of communication
• Talk with your teen about distracted driving. Make sure you both understand what things are dangerous distractions.
• Listen to your teen. Ask about what it’s like being in the car with other teens, and what distractions there are to handle.
• Encourage your teen to use his or her voice. Role-play with your teen so that he can become comfortable saying things like, “We both want to live, so let me answer your phone or text while you drive.”
• Help your teen get involved with programs at school like Project Ignition, so that she can be a positive example and make an impact.
• Set family ground rules for texting and calling while driving. Your teen needs to know you have high expectations, and what the consequences will be if the rules aren’t followed.
• Know where your teen is going, who he will be with, and what time he is expected home.
Be a positive example
• Model the behavior you want your teen to exhibit. If the phone rings while you’re driving, don’t answer it. Encourage your teen to answer your phone or text, allowing you to drive more safely.
• Speak up about distracted driving to your friends and peers in front of your teen driver. Help set an example, spread the word and save lives.
Project Ignition, a service-learning program coordinated by the National Youth Leadership Council and funded by State Farm, makes grants available to public high schools in the U.S. and Canada. The program provides young people the opportunity and tools necessary to take the lead in addressing teen driver safety issues in their communities by linking public service to academic curriculum.
How it Works
• Twenty-five schools will be chosen to receive $2,000 grants to support the implementation of teen driver safety awareness and engagement campaigns.
• Ten of these 25 schools will be given $5,000 to sponsor their participation in a significant national conference or event. They will also be given the opportunity to receive an additional $2,500 to go deeper with their campaigns during the 2012-2013 school year.
Additional information can be found at www.sfprojectignition.com.