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State, State Farm Insurance mount campaigns to keep youth drivers safe

As public health threats go, measles and flu get more attention than the leading cause of teen deaths.

It is car crashes.

The state and businesses are mounting high profile campaigns during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 20-26.

According to information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety, the average rate of personal injury crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers fell by nearly one-third during the four years after the law’s start (when compared with the four previous years), according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

State Farm Insurance is approaching teen driver safety, a winnable public health battle, by engaging teens while they learn to drive in a supportive and positive way. It’s a community celebration of safe driving habits emphasizing the benefits of safe choices as teens celebrate the freedom that comes with getting a drivers’ license. The initiative is called Celebrate My Drive.

Restrictions effective in August of 2008 are partially credited with these findings.  Since these current restrictions on teenagers’ licenses became effective, the number of fatalities in crashes involving teen drivers is down by one-half.  Injuries are reported to be down as well.

The rules, in part, prohibit teens from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. for their first six months, and limit the number of teenage passengers they can have in their vehicle at one time.  These are all part of the graduated driver licensing rules and laws that were put into place and are proving to work. 

In spite of the success from the restrictions, traffic safety officials are strongly urging parents to be involved with their teens during the whole permit to license process, and beyond. 

“Many parents don’t spend the time with their teen that is needed to develop good driving habits and to gain good experience especially during the time of the permit driving,” said State Patrol Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, regional Public Information Officer. “Parents need to be very involved and let their teen drive as much as possible while the parent is with them so they can learn in various driving situations,” said Sgt. Mowers.

State Farm has enlisted some high octane, or make that high octave, star power, enlisting country star Kelly Clarkson in the campaign.

During the 7th annual National Teen Driving Safety Week, people in communities across the US and Canada are committing to be safe drivers once daily between Oct. 18 and Oct. 26 at www.celebratemy

Each safe driving commitment is made directly in support of one of over 3,000 participating high schools. The top 100 high schools with the most safe driving commitments will be awarded grants ranging from $25,000 to $100,000. The top two schools will win a grand prize of a private concert Clarkson for their school.

“I am excited to be part of a movement positively impacting millions of new drivers,” said Clarkson. “We live in a community filled with drivers, new and experienced, and I am all about keeping us all safe on the road.”

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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