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Grant from Ford supports teen driver safety initiative

Nov. 8, 2018, 11:17 AM

(iStock image)

by Jessica Pasley

Automobile crashes remain the leading cause of overall fatalities for drivers 15-20 years old, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Ford Motor Company Fund along with the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are working to increase awareness among young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving through the “Be in the Zone — Turn Off Your Phone” campaign.

  • In 2016, 1,908 drivers ages 15 to 20 died in motor vehicle crashes, according to the NHTSA.
  • In 2017, there were 24,781 traffic crashes statewide where distracted driving was a contributing factor, according to the Tennessee Integrated Traffic Analysis Network (TITAN). Of those crashes, 120 were fatal.
  • The most recent TITAN data (through the second quarter of 2018) shows the number of crashes involving distracted driving has reached 11,925.

“Texting and driving is a serious issue,” said Purnima Unni, MPH, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention manager at Children’s Hospital. “As a hospital, we are playing a pivotal role in addressing the growing issue of distracted driving.

“The goal of our campaign is to address the issue of texting while driving among our teens and for them to take the information back to their schools and communities to raise awareness about the consequences of these actions.

“We couldn’t do this on our own. We are grateful for the participation of the 15 high schools across Middle Tennessee that are collaborating with us to spread the message.”

Children’s Hospital was awarded $100,000 by the Ford Motor Company Fund to support the campaign.

“We could not be more pleased with the efforts of the staff at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt,” said Jim Graham, global manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life. “Their dedication, passion and enthusiasm with the Be in the Zone program are certainly commendable.”

As a comprehensive regional pediatric center, one of only four in Tennessee, Children’s Hospital is responsible for modeling safety and injury prevention practices for many other hospitals and organizations throughout the state.

Ford Motor Company Fund has assisted with supporting the vehicle safety program since 2011. During this time the program has reached more than 88 high schools and approximately 114,000 students. The hospital-school collaborative educates Tennessee teen drivers of the dangers of texting while driving over the course of an entire school year.

Each school is tasked with participating in a youth empowerment project as part of the campaign.

“Research shows that programs targeting behavior change among teenagers are more likely to be successful if they have some component of self-management and if the messages come from peers,” said Unni. “We are proud of the work these students and school leaders have done to spread this important message.”

This year the program expects to reach more than 20,000 students in the participating schools and approximately 40,000 community members.

Go here to learn more about the program.

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