Teens Teach Teens Safer Driving

Texas has the highest number of teen driving deaths in the nation. Nearly 600 teens die every year in car crashes. So the Allstate Foundation, a non-profit branch of Allstate Insurance, is using peer-to-peer education to teach teenagers how to be better drivers. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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It's a beautiful spring day at Minute Maid Park where about 100 teens are assembled, brainstorming how to promote safer driving among their classmates and friends. One of them is Alex Muniz, a tenth grader at Aldine High School and a member of the Mayor's Youth Council.

"I've brought ten people to Keep the Drive. And Keep the Drive is basically an organization that is trying to prevent teen car accidents. Sixteen teens die a day from car accidents and Allstate Keep the Drive is trying to lower that number."

Most teen car crashes are caused by risky driving behavior...things like speeding, talking or texting on cell phones and other distractions. Ruth Williams is a local Allstate Agent and spokeswoman for the Allstate Foundation. She says they realized the message of safe driving doesn't resonate with teens unless it comes straight from their peers.

"For the last ten years, education has been going on about teen drivers but the stats haven't changed. We continue to have the same numbers. We want to impower these teens to speak to their own level and to speak on their own level about the types of things they can do. Because, bottom line is they listen to each other and they have more influence on each other."

Allstate is using things that appeal to teens like multimedia presentations, live music and the internet to push the message of safe driving. But mostly, they're expecting kids like Muniz to do the best PR.

"Trying to plan meets at school, like we just did a dance-off, we might want to do a carnival or a car show and try to spread the word by that."

Muniz admits he's sometimes tempted to break the rules behind the wheel, especially when it comes to speeding. But he says he and his friends realize they only have one life and taking even small risks could lead to tragedy. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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