Students Address Teenage Vehicle Deaths with Program

March 18, 2005

A group of teenagers from across the country are hoping to convince their friends that risky behavior behind the wheel can lead to death.

The program is called Project Ignition ). Sponsored by State Farm and
coordinated by the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC), teams of students from 25 schools around the county each received a $2,000 grant to implement programs addressing issues facing teen drivers.

These topics include seat belt use, speeding, impaired driving and distracted driving. The 2004-2005 Project Ignition campaigns included student created videos, safe driving demonstrations, community outreach programs, promotional items like key chains, simulated mock crash scenes and public service announcements.

Across the United States, 5,691 teenagers died in motor vehicle crashes in 2003, an average of nearly 16 teenagers killed per day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Los Angeles County alone, 32 teenagers between the ages of 16-20 died in car crashes in 2003 and 46 were killed the year before.

“As the nation’s largest insurer of automobiles, State Farm feels
compelled to take a leadership position on this issue through grant support of Project Ignition,” said Leif Roll, vice president of Customer & Product Marketing for State Farm. “Our agents live in the communities they insure, so we feel strongly about the issue of teen driver safety, which over and over again has such a devastating effect on families, schools and communities.”

One school was to be recognized by State Farm and NYLC for their program at the Project Ignition Festival on Friday, March 18, in Long Beach, Calif. The winning school receives a $10,000 grant and will be encouraged to continue its Project Ignition program efforts.

“Project Ignition embodies the true meaning of service-learning showing how teens can educate for change in their communities and with their peers,” said Dr. James Kielsmeier, president of NYLC. “Teen driving behavior and habits are a major factor in teen driving accidents. Project Ignition uses schools, teachers and classrooms to initiate projects and ideas to address risky behaviors and educate teens on the risks they face every time they get
behind the wheel. By educating for change – we change attitudes”.

Finalists in the first year of the program include:
* Ada High School – Ada, Okla.
* Carson High School – Carson, Nev.
* Centerville High School – Centerville, S.D.
* CODE/Hickman Hills High School – Kansas City, Mo.
* Kingwood High School – Kingwood, Texas
* Mooresville High School – Mooresville, Ind.
* Northeast High School – Oakland Park, Fla.
* Proctor High School – Proctor, Minn.
* Richland School District #2 – Richland, S.C.
* Shallowater High School – Shallowater, Texas.

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