State Farm Insurance wants to change that. So this school year the company is again challenging Alaska's young drivers to creatively educate their peers about the true risks of getting behind the wheel.
"Shift into Safety" offers high schools grants of $1,000 to $5,000 to fund campaigns that will help change teens' attitudes and actions in the driver's seat.
"Fatal crashes among young drivers are declining, which is good news, but we've still got a long way to go," said Harold Gray, State Farm's Senior Vice President, Pacific Northwest Zone. "We want Alaska teens to lead the way in educating and motivating their peers."
The numbers are compelling. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens. Young drivers are four times more likely to get into a car crash than older drivers. And the risk is especially high for 16-year-olds.
The company introduced "Shift into Safety" last year and awarded grants to five high schools across Alaska totaling close to $15,000. Winning schools included Haines Borough High School, Yakutat School District, Cantwell School, Lathrop High School, and Nikolaevsk School. Students tackled subjects from distractions to drivers' education. State Farm is looking for campaigns that motivate young drivers to grasp the risk and put safety first.
Any group within a school can apply for a grant, from an individual class to a student club. Applications are due by October 26, 2007. State Farm will announce grant winners in December, and campaigns must be completed by the end of the 2007-2008 school year. Public and private high schools are eligible.
For applications, rules and additional information, contact: Ryan Betz, at 253-912-7470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.