Never heard of Takata? Although it is one of the world’s leading seat belt manufacturers, Takata is a quiet company that prefers to remain behind the scenes, that is until the incidents of teen distracted driving reached today’s epidemic proportions.
Searching for a partner to help them combat the problem through a comprehensive teen distracted driving education program that is an extension of their own SAFE DRIVER program, Takata joined up with FocusDriven, a nonprofit advocacy group for cell-free driving.
Robert Fisher, Takata’s executive vice president, calls the partnership with FocusDriven a “perfect fit” for the company, whose vision is that one day there will be “zero victims due to traffic accidents.” Takata is also global leader in airbags and advanced safety electronics. The Takata Airbelt, the world’s first seatbelt with an airbag in the webbing, debuted on the $375,000 Lexus LFA supercar last fall.
The announcement of the collaboration follows a recent meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials on how best to combat the growing distracted driving epidemic. During the meeting, Takata, which has had a long history with both the Department of Transportation and the NHTSA on several automotive safety issues, shared its recent history targeting teens in schools with its SAFE DRIVER program curriculum.
The facts on teen distracted driving
The facts are clear: Distracted driving is killing teens in the U.S. at an alarming rate. A report from the NHTSA points out several alarming statistics.
- Eleven percent of the people who died in distracted driving crashes in 2009 were teens 15 to 19 years old.
- Eighteen percent of all teen motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2009 involved distracted driving.
- In 2009, 12 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were teens 15 to 19 years old.
- In 2009, 15 percent of teen (ages 15 to 19) drivers who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash.
The complete NHTSA report can be viewed here. It is important to note that these statistics are from those who admit to driving distractions related to their accident(s).
Aspects of the “Phone Down, Buckle Up – Every Time!” campaign
The theme of the Takata-FocusDriven campaign is, “Phone down, Buckle Up – Every Time!”
FocusDriven supports banning all mobile phone use while driving. Takata launched their relationship with FocusDriven with an initial donation to help the organization expand its efforts to help make teenagers even more aware of the dangers of cell phone distractions while driving. Takata and FocusDriven will also promote that wearing your seatbelt every time is the most effective defense against a distracted driver.
In addition to establishing the “Phone Down, Buckle Up – Every Time!” campaign, Takata has made a financial contribution and donated a SAFE DRIVER state-of-the-art driving simulator to FocusDriven. The initial efforts will be to educate teens about the dangers of distracted driving, similar to the SAFE DRIVER experience.
Teens taking part in Takata’s SAFE DRIVER curriculum in schools were engaged and had fun using the simulator, as well as other fun, educational activities like the Wii Challenge, “R U Smarter than a Crash Dummy?” game show, and TRIKE obstacle course.
The message, “Phone Down, Buckle Up – Every Time!” not only addresses avoiding the dangerous driving distraction posed by smart phones and other electronic communication devices, but also addresses another issue – that of defending yourself in a vehicle from other drivers on the road who may not heed the warnings about distracted driving.
“Teenagers remain the largest texting population, and there is a real need to educate them on avoiding the urge to use mobile phones while driving,” says Jennifer Smith, president, FocusDriven. “Conversely, teenagers remain a population segment that still needs to be reminded that more than 60 percent of motor vehicle fatalities occur with drivers or passengers who are not buckled up. Together, that is a devastating combination.”