Project Ignition: Teen Drivers Go Peer To Peer For Safety

June 3, 2011

Judging by headlines and statistics, you’d think the majority of teenage drivers engage in risky behavior behind the wheel. But Project Ignition, which just announced the top ten teen driver safety campaigns for 2010-2011, is out to prove otherwise.

Project Ignition is a teen driver safety initiative coordinated by the National Youth Leadership Council and sponsored by State Farm. In essence, it’s a peer-to-peer youth-led engagement program that utilizes service-learning to address teen driver safety issues. Their goal: to change behaviors and save lives.

During Project Ignition’s past seven years, hundreds of schools have received funding, thousands of high school students have been engaged as Project Ignition teen members, and many more thousands have been impacted by the teens’ campaigns – peers and the community.

What began as a simple messaging strategy has evolved into a peer-to-peer youth-led engagement strategy. Students take what they’ve learned in the classroom and reach out to engage their peers and members of the community.

Case in point is graduated driver’s license laws. You’d think that teens would feel like the restrictions are too onerous. On the contrary, teens in Project Ignition are extremely supportive of these laws. Regarding cell phone use and distracted driving, these high school students are reaching out to adults and saying we may be more at risk, but you need to change your behavior – you are texting and using cell phones while driving even more than we are.

The top ten campaigns, led by high school students in the U.S. and Canada, sought to reduce risky driving attitudes and behaviors. For their successful efforts, each school will receive $5,000 to support their participation in the National Service Learning Conference next spring in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Each school is also eligible to receive continued funding of $2,500 in the 2011-2012 school year to expand upon their campaign’s previous success.

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