- To mark Teen Driver Safety Week, Toyota launched its Teen Driver Video Challenge, one of many efforts that highlight the need for extending driver's education.
- AAA is seeking the best driving advice from parents in its own contest for an iPad Mini and gift cards.
- The nationwide Tire Rack Street Survival program shows defensive driving skills that take a step beyond parallel parking lessons.
SOUTH BEND, Indiana — As Teen Driver Safety Week continues through October 26, safety advocates and automakers are urging parents to extend their teenage driver's education long after they receive their driver's license.
By hosting fun contests and putting the spotlight on special defensive driving courses, car companies, including Toyota, hope to chip away at the scary statistic that more than 4,000 teen drivers (ages 15-20) were in fatal car crashes in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The 2014 Toyota Teen Driver Video Challenge invites teen filmmakers to create original videos to inspire their peers to be safer drivers and avoid distractions. The grand prize is $15,000, and will be selected by online votes. Toyota will remake the winning video with a film crew from contest partner Discovery Education to run on ToyotaTeenDriver.com and a range of Discovery's online properties. The deadline is March 13, 2014.
A second Toyota sweepstakes encourages the public to enter their high school to receive a cash prize used to begin a distracted driving awareness program on their campus. One school will receive a grand prize of $5,000 as well as a virtual driving simulator, while 10 other schools will receive runners-up prizes of $1,000 each. Entries can be submitted once a day until April 15, 2014.
AAA is going the contest route, too. It's seeking the best driving advice from parents on Contest.TeenDrivingAAA.com. It also lets adults challenge their own driving acumen with a "Are You Smarter than Your Teen Driver?" quiz. The prizes include an iPad Mini and Visa gift cards.
Why is Teen Drivers Safety Week important to these organizations?
Proactive behavior makes a significant difference, Matt Edmonds, vice president of TireRack.com, told Edmunds in a telephone interview. The South Bend, Indiana-based company sponsors the nationwide Tire Rack Street Survival program, a "hands-on" driver's training that uses real-world situations, like wet roadways and texting simulations while driving, to teach teens about a car's handling limits and how to control them.
"Our most valuable natural resource in this country is our young people and we lose too many of them every single day," he said. "It's not because they drive too fast or are driving intoxicated or have a friends in the car. It's because something happened and they lost control of their vehicle."
He's surprised that parents will spend money on getting extra music lessons or hiring a coach to make their child a better athlete, "but when it comes to driving, a skill they will use probably every single day for the rest of their life, they rely on a traditional driver's education rather than one that develops their skills beyond parallel parking," he said.
For more information, visit StreetSurvival.org.
Edmunds says: Teen drivers have some fun options to make them better behind the wheel.