Sports

Kahne talks to teens about safety

When Allstate decided to get the message out about the dangers of teenage driving, they went to some of the fastest-moving and safest drivers on the track, NASCAR Sprint Cup team – Richard Petty Motorsports.

On his way to Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in California, Enumclaw driver Kasey Kahne and SPEED TV’s John Roberts made a pit stop at Cascade High School in Everett to speak to teens and their parents about safe driving.

Kahne reminded youth how easy it is to become distracted by cell phones, music and friends in the car.

“It’s easy to lose focus,” he said in interviews after the assembly. “It only takes a split second.”

This is the third year of the Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop program sponsored by Allstate, the official insurance sponsor of RPM. The interactive, racing-themed initiative visits high schools in Sprint Cup Series race markets and features RPM drivers like Kahne talking to parents and teens about ways to promote teen safe driving, including adoption of Allstate’s interactive Parent-Teen Driving Contract, available at www.allstate.com/teen.

The contract is the centerpiece of Allstate’s national teen driving campaign and enables parents to discuss safe-driving practices with their teens. It includes ‘agreements’ and ‘consequences’ for eight categories, including: speeding and tickets; time of day; crashes; number of passengers; drinking and driving; seatbelts; cell phones, music and other distractions and grades.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts 2006, car crashes are the number one cause of fatalities among teenagers in America. Based on analysis by Sperling’s BestPlaces 2008, Washington ranks 42nd worst in the nation with a Teen Fatal Crash Rate of almost 22 deaths per 100,000 teens and the Seattle/Tacoma metro area ranks 40th worst with nearly 17 deaths per capita. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Study notes teens are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers and teens have the lowest seat belt use of all drivers.

Sunday Kahne and his No. 9 crew were wearing blue Allstate wristbands with WA-86 To remember the 86 teen driving fatalities from 2007 in Washington.

“For more than 10 years, car crashes have been the number one killer of teens,” said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate’s vice president of marketing. “Allstate and Richard Petty Motorsports understand the best way to educate teenagers on the virtues of safe driving is through their parents. This partnership allows us to create a unique and interactive forum for parents and teens to hear about safe driving from guys who go 200 miles per hour but understand how to stay in control. Hopefully, these events will initiate that important conversation between teens and their parents about safe driving.”

The program is also brings attention to the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act of 2009 (STANDUP), which would establish minimum federal requireemnts for state Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws that would phase new drivers into full driving privileges gradually over time so they gain behind-the-wheel experience and develop driving skills in lower-risk conditions.

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