New Rochester Program Drives Teens Be Smarter on the Road

Allstate Foundation partners with Injury Free Coalition for Kids to target safety messages to teens

May 16, 2008

Teen driving has been a priority of The Allstate Foundation since 2005.

This morning, County Executive Maggie Brooks teamed up with Allstate representatives and members of Rochester's Injury Free Coalition for Kids to launch a new community-based "Drive Smarter" initiative. Aiming to boost teen safety behind the wheel, the program, announced at Churchville-Chili Senior High just prior to a crash simulation, and just hours before the senior class prom, is made possible thanks to a $36,000 grant from The Allstate Foundation.

Through a multi-pronged approach that will draw on teen-developed media and posters, educational community workshops, teen trauma internships and a drive-in style mixer event, the "Drive Smarter" program hopes to spark dialogue between teens, parents, physicians and lawmakers.

"Our youth are our community's greatest asset, and it is our responsibility to protect their safety and ensure their well-being," said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. "Monroe County is proud to partner with Allstate and Rochester's Injury Free Coalition for Kids for the 'Drive Smarter' campaign. The need for this initiative is real in our community, because injuries from motor vehicle incidents are the cause of many teen deaths in our area. It is our hope that through a media campaign, workshops and events, we will be able to connect with our young people and in turn minimize the number of auto collisions involving teens."

Last year, 911 children were treated at Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong's pediatric Emergency Department for injuries related to motor vehicle collisions – 431 of them were 16- to 18-year-olds.

Over the course of the year, the "Drive Smarter" program plans to deliver:

• Teen-developed media and messages that encourage peers toward safer driving practices, via:
o A teen poster design contest. Winning entries will be reproduced and displayed community-wide; two winners will receive $350 each. (For contest rules and guidelines, click here.)
o The opportunity to serve on a pamphlet-design committee to develop a "Drive Smarter" brochure for peers; four teen panelists will be selected to earn $200 each and a community service credit for their efforts. (To learn more or apply to be on the panel, click here).
• Educational workshops, led by Injury Free, will be offered throughout the community to highlight the risks faced by teen drivers and methods for promoting safety.
• Trauma internship workshops, offered several times throughout the year, will give teens a detailed crash simulation, from collision, to hospitalization, to rehabilitation.
• A drive-in style event, geared towards teens, that blends car-show appeal with safety stations simulated roll-overs, impaired driving demonstrations, and hazard obstacle courses.

"Research shows that teen brains are not through developing until their mid-twenties," said Anne Brayer, M.D., co-director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids Rochester, a program based in the pediatric division of Emergency Medicine at Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong. "When coupled with driver inexperience, this may make teens more liable to taking unsafe risks – and those risks are magnified when distracted by cell phones, music or other passengers in the car."

"Teen driving deaths and injuries are at epidemic levels and our funding for this program is not a nicety, but a necessity," said Allstate Foundation Chairperson Inez Birbiglia. "This integrated approach will bring critical attention to this deadly issue by reaching teenagers, their parents, and the Rochester community at large. More than any other cause – even drugs, suicide, and homicide – the number one killer of teenagers is motor vehicle crashes. Throughout 2008, we hope to see lasting and measurable differences in these tragic statistics in Rochester."


About the Injury Free Coalition for Kids
The Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Rochester is a child injury prevention program co-directed by Lynn Cimpello, M.D. and Anne Brayer, M.D., both trauma experts from University of Rochester's Department of Emergency Medicine and Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong. The program's main goal is to reduce the incidence and severity of childhood injury in the greater Rochester metropolitan area.

About The Allstate Foundation
Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. The Allstate Foundation partners with non-profit organizations on community initiatives that promote "safe and vital communities," "tolerance, inclusion, and diversity" and "economic empowerment." Teen driving and empowering victims of domestic violence have been priorities for the Foundation since 2005.

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Becky Jones
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