Impact Teen Drivers Program Hopes to Save Lives
California Casualty Management Company (CCMC) teamed up with the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) to launch a teen driver awareness program aimed at saving young lives.
The program, called Impact!, is geared directly toward the newest drivers — 10th graders — and it focuses on making them aware of the dangers of distracted driving.
The No. 1 cause of death among teenagers is car accidents, and an average of 900 California teens die each year in traffic collisions, according to George Bowen, senior vice president of group development for California Casualty.
"Only a 1/4 of those deaths are alcohol- or drug-related. The rest — 75% of teen driving deaths — are largely preventable. The Impact! campaign asks teens: 'What do you consider to be lethal?' It's not such things as shark bites or knife attacks that might be lethal. Teens will learn that every day things, like using a cell phone or lip gloss, are far more deadly when used while driving. The campaign wants kids to know the decisions they make — whether to buckle up, carry passengers, speed, use a cell phone — can lead to deadly consequences."
Teens get the message via mediums they use every day: on colorfully designed T-shirts, in cell phone text messages, YouTube clips and on Web site "walls," through testimonials from family and friends, and through classroom lessons and posters.
The public information campaign, coordinated by CCMC, the CAHP and the CTA, was made possible through a grant from California Casualty. It revives a previously funded program run by the CAHP that went dormant due to lack of funding. The campaign recognizes that those impacted by a teen's loss — highway patrol officers at the scene of the accident and teachers who must face empty desks in their classrooms — may be in the best position to help educate teens about the dangers of distracted driving.
Teachers are invited to use the campaign's DVD-based classroom lessons and posters. They are also urged to invite teens to visit the campaign's Web site at www.impactteendrivers.org to hear personal stories of loss.
"If what we're able to do with the Impact! campaign can save just one life, spare one family the pain, then it's all worth it," Bowen said.