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Children’s Hospital, Allstate team to enhance teen driver safety

Jan. 23, 2020, 9:12 AM

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by Jessica Pasley

While teen driver fatalities have declined over the years, automobile crashes remain the leading cause of death among teens.

Every day in the United States, nine people die from a distracted-driving motor vehicle crash, with six of these deaths being drivers between 16-19 years old.

These statistics are part of the reason the Allstate Foundation 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.

“When school is in session, teens are driving to football games, gatherings with friends and part-time jobs,” said Purnima Unni, MPH, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Manager at Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “Distractions can present themselves in many forms, including talking to friends, listening to music, using GPS navigation or texting. These distractions are dangerous because they affect a person visually, manually and cognitively.

“Teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and proven strategies can improve the safety of young drivers. The campaign provides us a great opportunity to spread awareness about the new Hands-Free Tennessee Law.”

The safety campaign, aimed at teenage drivers, plays a pivotal role in highlighting the growing issue of distracted driving. Be in the Zone’s goal is to address the issue among teens and for them to take the information back to their schools and communities to raise awareness about the consequences of these actions.

This year, 14 high schools are participating in the campaign to spread the message about safe driving practices with the help of a $65,000 grant by Allstate.

“Addressing distracted driving is a priority at Allstate,” said Allison May, corporate relations division manager, Allstate Insurance Company, Southern Region. “This year, we have a unique opportunity to help socialize Tennessee’s Hands-Free law. We’re honored to continue our partnership with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to empower students to come up with creative ways to protect their family, friends and community.”

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.

Allstate has assisted with supporting the vehicle safety program since 2012 and has reached more than 101 high schools and approximately 115,000 students. The hospital-school collaborative educates Tennessee teen drivers about 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.

This year, participating schools are Tullahoma High School, Cascade High School, McKenzie High School, Hillwood High School, East Hickman High School, Mt. Pleasant High School, Clarksville Academy, Moore County High School, Jo Byrn’s High School, Central Magnet High School, Blackman High School, Smyrna High School, Gallatin High School, and Mt. Juliet High School.

To learn more about the program, go here.

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