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Allstate Event Teaches Distracted Driving Risk

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Metro Detroit parents and teens took a pledge Wednesday to limit or eliminate distractions from their cars at Allstate Insurance Company’s Family Driving Challenge.

The event, held in a parking lot at Wayne State University’s Oakland Center Campus in Farmington Hills, is a hands-on experience where parents and teens learned what distractions can do to a driver behind the wheel.

Professional driving instructors took parent-teen teams through a special advanced driving course that included distractions such as phone calls, texting and rowdy passengers. With each added distraction, the course became more difficult as both teens and parents hit cones and veered off course.

“Driving today is completely different from how it was just a few years ago,” said Chris Markey, Allstate Michigan sales leader. “With cell phones, MP3 players and other smart devices, we are constantly multi-tasking, but it shouldn’t be done while driving.”

After completing the Family Driving Challenge, several parents and their teens placed their thumbprint on a large banner, symbolizing their family pledge to not text and drive.

The Family Driving Challenge is being held in 38 cities across the United States and is designed to help reduce the numbers around some alarming statistics related to distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration:
* Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver.
* Driver distraction contributes to 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes.
* Younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.
* Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of American teens, killing thousands each year and injuring hundreds of thousands more.

The Family Driving Challenge is an updated version of Allstate’s “Action Against Distraction” campaign that only included teen drivers participating in a similar distracted-driving course. The Family Driving Challenge features parent and teen participation since safe driving habits need to start at home. According to a recent study by the Allstate Foundation, almost 90 percent of the teens surveyed said their parents were the biggest influencers on their driving habits.

“Teens are watching what their parents are doing while they’re driving, and it influences their behavior,” said Markey. “This is why it’s so important for parents to put down their phones, limit their distractions and overall, set a good example in the car for their teens.”

Allstate supports a federal graduated driver licensing law called the Safe Teen and Novice Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act – H.R. 1895 – which was introduced in Congress in April 2009. If passed, the bill would create uniform GDL standards across all 50 states. To learn more about the STANDUP act visit http://www.saferoads4teens.org. For additional resources on protecting teen drivers, including an interactive parent-teen driving contract, visit http://www.allstate.com/teen.

Teenagers can find out information on Family Driving Challenge Events from across the country on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DrivingChange. Parents can learn how to begin the conversation about safe driving with teens by visiting http://www.allstateteendriver.com/home/contract.

(C) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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