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Young Drivers Understand Risky Behavior But Tempt Fate Behind the Wheel

New driver data released during National Youth Traffic Safety Month (May)

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05/07/2009 - WASHINGTON, D.C.

Despite the recognition of the danger, 83 percent of teenagers admit that they talk on a cell phone while driving and 68 percent admit to texting while driving, according to a survey of young drivers released today by National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) and The Allstate Foundation.

The survey, which was released in conjunction with National Youth Traffic Safety Month (NYTSM), also revealed these young drivers feel talking and texting on cell phones is as dangerous as driving on icy roads and in rain and snow.

"Unfortunately, many young drivers know distracted driving is dangerous, but choose to take those risks when behind the wheel," said Sandy Spavone, executive director of NOYS. "Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death and injuries for teens in the United States, therefore we try to empower youth across the country to make a difference, reduce these crashes and develop and implement youth-led projects during National Youth Traffic Safety Month."

To gain a fresh perspective on current young driver knowledge, attitudes and behaviors, NOYS worked with TRU, a research company, which surveyed 605 young drivers, ages 16- to 20-years-old from across the United States. Through funding support from The Allstate Foundation, this survey found that many young drivers understand risks, but still chose to engage in those dangerous activities while behind the wheel.

"Reducing teen fatalities on our nation's roads is a priority for The Allstate Foundation," said Vicky Dinges, assistant vice president for public social responsibility at Allstate. "The Allstate Foundation believes that putting teens in the driver's seat to develop real solutions that will help change the ways teens think and act in the car is key to reversing the statistics."

Key findings include:

  • Young drivers believe driving on icy roads (93 percent), driving while texting (87 percent), driving in the rain/snow (79 percent), and driving while talking on a cell phone (63 percent), is dangerous.
  • Although they admit that texting while driving is dangerous, 80 percent of girls and 58 percent of boys text while driving.
  • Nearly 40 percent of teens have heard about graduated driver licensing (GDL), but only 23 percent say their parents know their state's GDL laws. Parents who do enforce GDL, however, have a big impact - fewer of their sons and daughters say they've been ticketed (15 percent vs. 23 percent) and fewer have come close to being in a collision (56 percent vs. 72 percent).
  • Nearly half (42 percent) of teens knew a friend or family member who died or was seriously injured in a car crash. More teens who have lost a peer, friend, or family member in a crash have been involved in a youth traffic safety effort.
  • 65 percent of teens have asked someone to stop driving unsafely, and that number rises to 75 percent for teens involved in a youth traffic safety effort.

The survey was conducted in January 2009, with a margin of error of, of +/-4 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level. To obtain a summary of the survey data, please visit

Act Out Loud: Raising Voices for Safe Teen Driving
NOYS and The Allstate Foundation are also partnering to promote the Act Out Loud: Raising Voices for Safe Teen Driving contest, a teen-led and school-based activism competition to help spread the word about safe teen driving in communities across the country. Across the nation, the Top 20 Act Out Loud teams have been documenting their activism projects through blog, photo and video postings at The public is encouraged to vote for their favorite safe driving team online May 11-22, 2009. These online votes will determine which teams will receive money to further their safe driving efforts. Winners will be announced during National Youth Traffic Safety Month on May 27, 2009. Details about the contest can be found at

National Youth Traffic Safety Month
National Youth Traffic Safety Month is a national youth led campaign held each May in response to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicating that over the past decade, seven of the top 10 deadliest days for youth traffic-related deaths historically fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In 2007, more than 5,000 youth died as a result of a motor vehicle crash and 300,000 were injured. Hosting NYTSM in May allows the youth to work the entire school year on their projects with a grand finale activity right before prom, graduation and the summer driving season.

To secure an interview with a representative from The Allstate Foundation please contact Joanna Augustynski at (847) 402-5604 or and for a representative from NOYS please contact Kimberly Varner at (202) 842-3600 x254 or

National Organizations for Youth Safety
Founded on February 8, 1994, the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) is a coalition of approximately 40 national organizations and government agencies with one common goal, to promote safe and healthy behaviors among America's youth. Through this network, NOYS influences more than 80 million youth and adults. The mission of NOYS is to promote youth empowerment and leadership, and build partnerships that save lives, prevent injuries, and enhance safe and healthy lifestyles among all youth. NOYS created National Youth Traffic Safety Month to empower youth to develop and led teen traffic safety projects that will positively impact their communities. For more information visit

The Allstate Foundation
Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. The Allstate Foundation partners with non-profit organizations on community initiatives that promote "safe and vital communities," "tolerance, inclusion, and diversity" and "economic empowerment." Teen driving and empowering victims of domestic violence have been major initiatives for the Foundation since 2005. For more information visit


Joanna Augustynski
(847) 402-5604

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