Anyone who has teenagers knows that when adults talk, teenagers tend to tune out. But…if we actively involve them in the conversation, those same teenagers are much more apt to tune back in. Well, it’s time to get their attention!

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35% of all teenage deaths are the result of motor vehicle crashes, making auto accidents the number one leading cause of death for teenagers (http://www.nhtsa.gov/Teen-Drivers). In response to this startling statistic, the NHTSA developed a multi-tiered strategy aimed at reducing this percentage. That strategy includes increased seat belt use, parental responsibility, reduced access to alcohol, and the implementation of graduated licensing. You may remember I discussed graduated licensing in more detail in a previous blog http://www.yutzmerkle.com/2011/02/04/on-the-side-of-the-law/).

Well, the NHTSA isn’t alone in recognizing the severity of this statistic. Society as a whole is becoming more aware of the vulnerabilities of the teenage driver…and pushing for change. Of course we know it is important to educate teenagers about driver safety: to review the rules and courtesies of the road, set limits on passengers in the vehicle, remind them to resist distractions such as using cell phones or eating while driving (http://auto.erieinsurance.com/Teenage-driving-safety.aspx). But it’s even more important to make sure they’re paying attention…so let’s get them involved in the conversation!

Erie Insurance is sponsoring a contest called “The Shift” to encourage teens to spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving among themselves. By watching educational videos, sharing knowledge, and/or by creating t-shirts, videos, or posters to promote safe driving, students can earn points for the chance to win cash prizes for themselves and/or their schools. Please visit http://www.jointheshift.org/ to learn more about how your teenager can take the pledge to be a smart and responsible driver and “Join the Shift” to promote driver safety!