Concordville, PA (April 9, 2013)
Teenage drivers are at risk on the road - there's no question about it. Car accidents are the leading cause of death of 16-19 year-olds, and crashes on the road kill more teens than cancer, homicide, and suicide combined. In the United States, teen driver and peer passenger deaths account for one-quarter of total teen deaths every year.
Throughout the spring, State Farm®, Main Line Health, Bryn Mawr Rehab and a host of local and state emergency services personnel will be partnering with students from several local high schools to bring the consequences of poor teen driving decisions right to the school yard. This comprehensive community collaborative includes a rehearsed crash scene and scenario provided by the high school's SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) chapter that is enacted with the students, members of the Media Theater Company, and interaction with the actual emergency responders in their community. This includes real time extrication and rescue, police and family confrontation, and the result of injury and death. Following the crash, students are ushered to the school auditorium for a Bryn Mawr Rehab "Cruisin' not Boozin' presentation and conversation with actual crash victims, many of which have current and former ties to the host high schools.
The program, which began at Penncrest High School in Delaware County, was crafted in 2006 by Riddle Hospital and Middletown Fire Company and, is funded through grant from State Farm.
"It is Riddle Hospital's intent with this program to send the strongest message we can to young drivers and passengers about the outcomes when poor decisions are made about driving impaired or distracted as well as getting into a car with someone who is", said Martha Grieco Communications and Development Coordinator at Riddle Hospital in Media. "We hope by witnessing the Mock Crash Event they will understand how valuable their lives are to everyone." In 2010, the program expanded to Chester County with a State Farm and Paoli Hospital partnership. Their first program was held at Henderson High School in West Chester. "Providing these mock crashes is very impacting for the students that observe and hear the message, " adds Brad Zerr Director Of Community Health Services at Paoli Hospital. "It is our hope that every student will make safe decisions when driving as a result of experiencing the mock crash program."
Through the end of May, the program will be held at the following high schools:
Strath Haven High School in Wallingford on April 9
Downingtown East High School in Paoli on April 17
Owen J Roberts High School in Pottstown on April 19
Henderson High School in West Chester on April 30
Penncrest High School in Media on May 1
Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills on May 22
For State Farm, safe teen driver education and advocacy is core to their mission of helping people realize their dreams by keeping young drivers safe. This includes their passengers and others on the roadways. "In their first year on the road, teens are almost 10 times more likely to be in a crash," says State Farm's Eastern Public Affairs Field Manager, Jen Alvarez. "Whether we have a teen driver in our family or not, we should all care about this issue."
Research shows most of these tragedies are due to inexperience, and are therefore preventable. Strong Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, which allow teens to gain experience under lower-risk conditions, are proven to be one effective measure. To further reduce the number of deaths and injuries with teens behind the wheel, public health programs, GDL, and other traffic safety laws should focus on the key teen behaviors known to raise crash risk: speeding, alcohol use, distractions from peer passengers, and cell phones, as well as failure to wear a seat belt.
"Some teens still think the consequences of reaching for a cell phone are less severe than reaching for a beer bottle," said Laurette Stiles, Vice President of Strategic Resources at State Farm. "We have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to helping teens understand that texting while driving can be every bit as dangerous as drinking while driving. It's an awareness gap that must be addressed."
A recent report on teen driver safety released by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm® shows encouraging trends, though, when it comes to teen passengers. In 2011 more than half of teen passengers (54 percent) reported "always" buckling up. From 2008 to 2011, risky behaviors of teen passengers (ages 15 to 19 years) declined: the number of teen passengers killed in crashes not wearing seat belts decreased 23 percent; the number of teen passengers driven by a peer who had been drinking declined 14 percent; and 30 percent fewer teen passengers were killed in crashes involving a teen driver. Overall, the report measured a 47 percent decline in teen driver-related fatalities over the past six years. Still, as recent high-profile multi-fatality crashes with teen drivers illustrate, crashes remain the leading cause of death for U.S. teens.
Although the report indicates progress for teen driver safety efforts, risky behaviors - such as texting or emailing while driving, driving after drinking, and low seat belt use - remain serious problems. According to the report, called Miles to go: Focusing on Risks for Teen Driver Crashes, a third of teens say they have recently texted or emailed while driving - a proven deadly distraction, especially for teen drivers. Speeding remained a factor in more than half of fatal teen driver crashes - nearly the same percentage as in 2008, and the percentage of teens dying in crashes with a blood alcohol level > 0.01 increased slightly - from 38 percent to 41 percent.
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts - more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 43 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.