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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

July, 2007



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Summer Months Most Deadly For Teen Drivers

WASHINGTON, DC - Summer can be a deadly time for teenage drivers. The end of the school year and the start of summer vacation marks a significant increase in the number of car crashes and fatalities for young drivers as they spend more time behind the wheel with unstructured schedules and less parental guidance. The Advertising Council's UR the Spokesperson campaign is reminding teens to "speak up" to prevent reckless driving and save lives, especially during these summer months.
"Car crashes are the number one killer of teens and as we approach the deadliest months of the year, it is important that we encourage teens to be the spokesperson and 'speak up' when their friends drive recklessly," says General Thurbert Baker, Attorney General of Georgia and President of the National Association of Attorneys General. "Teens have the potential to exert immeasurable positive influence on their peers and speaking up could save their lives and the lives of their friends."

According to a recent AAA analysis, crash deaths for teen drivers average nearly 20 percent higher in July and August than any other months of the year. In fact, between 1994 and 2004 an average of 104 16- and 17-year old drivers died in July and August, compared to a monthly average death toll of 87 young driver. In addition, a teen driving study conducted by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) showed that teens succumb to more risky in-vehicle behavior during the summer months, including "piling in"-driving with three or more passengers in the car-and driving late at night. The SADD study also found that teens average 44 percent more hours behind the wheel each week during the summer than during the school year (nearly 24 hours per week in the summer months compared to about 16 hours per week during the school year).

As summer approaches, the UR the Spokesperson campaign is empowering young drivers to "speak up" when they are in a car with friends and do not feel safe. Campaign research showed that teen drivers may be more likely to listen to friends than to adults, which is why the UR the Spokesperson campaign is using a peer-to-peer approach. When teens act as the spokesperson and "speak up," they are using positive peer pressure to save lives.

"Our research has shown that a teenager's need for social connection is his or her most valuable asset," says Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council. "While they feel invincible, teen passengers will speak up and the teen driver will listen because they don't want to damage their friendships or be labeled a bad driver."


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