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Peer Pressure for Good?

Friday, June 21, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Liberty Mutual
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Driving safety advocates are hoping to find a new way to get through to teens – through other teens.

You’ve no doubt heard the statistics on how using electronic devices in the car can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. And the increase in the use of cell phones and other devices while driving has had a significant effect on driving fatalities. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, highway crashes are the leading cause of death for young Americans. While fatalities in general have declined in recent years, highway deaths were up last year, with deaths of 16- and 17-year-olds rising nearly 20 percent from the year before.

So how can we convince teens to put down their smartphones and pay attention to the road? As we’ve noted before, driving with mom and dad might not be the answer. Last year, a study from Liberty Mutual Insurance showed that teens mirror parents’ distracted driving habits. In an interview with NPR, Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, advised parents to be on their best behavior behind the wheel "because [your kids] are watching you, and you are actually one of the best indicators of what your child’s behavior is going to be.”

Now, in an effort to deter teens from texting and driving, the government is turning to a tool that could be more powerful than parents’ admonitions – peer pressure.

The results of a recent national survey show that while 95 percent of teens read text messages and emails while driving alone, less than a third do it when they have friends in the car. The survey of over 2,000 teens, conducted by the Teens Drive Smart Program at Bridgestone Americas, also found that over 90 percent of young drivers post to social media sites when driving alone, but only 29 percent did so with others in the car. As the Detroit Bureau notes, the survey’s results suggest that the widely publicized efforts to shine a light on the dangers of distracted driving may be having the desired effects by making the practice socially unacceptable.

Now, Project Yellow Light, a new scholarship program sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is rewarding students who have created their own PSA videos about distracted driving. The program encourages teens to "speak to your peers on this subject in a way that adults cannot. The more lives you can impact, the more lives you can save.” The winners – three from high schools and three from colleges – receive scholarships of $5,000, $2,000 and $1,000 for first through third places, respectively. The winners’ videos will be turned into Ad Council PSAs and distributed to 1,600 television stations around the country.

Is it possible that the power of peer pressure could be leveraged for good by getting teens to put down their phones while they’re behind the wheel? Weigh in here.


Source: Liberty Mutual's Responsibility Project Blog
May 16, 2013 - by Andrea Bennett
Picture is property of Liberty Mutual. Used with permission.

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