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The combination of teens and driving is a proven, dangerous one-motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, claiming more than 6,000 15- to 20-year-olds nationwide every year.
It takes little thought, then, to conclude that adding the major distraction of cell phone use has the potential of being even more dangerous.
In mid 2007, AAA Colorado conducted a survey focused on the three-way combination of teens, driving and cell phone use (see page 10 for details). By doing so, AAA Colorado hopes to create better, more effective educational messages that will have the greatest impact on teen driving behavior.
Additionally, AAA Colorado knows that heightened awareness of an issue, along with a call to action, can have immediate, positive impacts on driving behaviors.
With that in mind, AAA Colorado and its traffic safety partners (Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Department of Transportation and the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association) staged a major news conference to announce the survey results, and created a pledge for teens to not text message and drive. It is hoped that the press conference and pledge will stimulate greater awareness of this critical issue.
The press conference was held on November 13 at Denver's South High School. Principal William Kohut enthusiastically agreed to get his school and students involved. The members of the student senate agreed to sign an "I Won't Text & Drive" banner, created t-shirts that said the same, and developed a week's campaign of awareness for their school.
Speakers at the press conference included a teen and her mother who told of how their school lost a teen in an accident thought to have been caused by text messaging while driving. A state patrol officer warned of the dangers of cell phone use and driving. Wrapping up the press conference, Principal Kohut and two students challenged other Colorado schools and students to take the pledge.
If you know of a Colorado high school or group of students who want to get involved in this issue, find out more information or want to take the pledge, have them contact Wave Dreher, AAA Colorado's traffic safety specialist, at 303-753-8800, ext. 8105.
Working together, we can make a difference and help our teens become better, safer drivers.
President and CEO