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Bridgestone: Distracted driving plagues young drivers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 22, 2014) — Eight out of 10 teens surveyed recently by Bridgestone Americas rate texting and driving as more dangerous than skydiving, yet drivers aged 16-21 are 50 times more likely to text and drive than skydive.

The survey, part of Bridgestone Americas’ “Teens Drive Smart” program, found that while teens said texting and driving is dangerous, distracted driving persists as young drivers continue to text behind the wheel. The Nashville-based tire maker said more than half of teens freely admit they occasionally text and drive, although they are quick to point out that it is only under certain circumstances — like when the car is stopped or when they are alone in the car.

Bridgestone said the study was taken on mobile phones and was done by market researchers Penn Schoen & Berland Associates March 28 and April 2.

Seventy percent of young drivers said they are likely to text if they are at a red light. Sixty percent say they have texted while driving when alone in the car — compared with 37 percent with friends and 10 percent with parents.

The survey also found that teens know texting and driving is wrong, Bridgestone said, and 70 percent have asked a friend or parent to stop texting and driving. More than a third of teens admitted that someone else had asked them to stop texting and driving before.

“For more than a decade, Bridgestone Americas has educated teenagers and young adults on the importance of safe driving,” said Leslie Wilhite, manager, Teens Drive Smart Program, Bridgestone Americas.

“We believe in making the ride more enjoyable and for many teens, that ride is being cut short because of distracted driving. We have to continue to reinforce that distracted driving impacts others on the road around you, even if you’re in the car alone.”

As part of Bridgestone’s continued efforts to raise awareness about distracted driving among teens, the tire company said its Teens Drive Smart video contest is accepting video entries until June 19. Students ages 16-21 are invited to create a short automotive safety-themed video that encourages their peers to make better decisions behind the wheel.

The top 10 videos are posted online for the public to vote on, and the three videos that receive the most votes win college scholarships: first place receives $20,000; second place receives $10,000 and third place receives $5,000. Each Teens Drive Smart video contest winner will also have the chance to have his or her video used as a public service announcement (PSA) on television stations across the U.S.

“We are proud to help strengthen teens’ privilege and license to drive with smart and hands-on education,” said Paul Oakley, vice president of communications at Bridgestone Americas. “Tires aren’t just round and black—they are some of the most highly engineered products on a car, but even so, it’s critical that newer drivers understand their obligation to drive safely and encourage the same of others.”

Here are the 2014 contest details:

  • Videos must be 25 or 55 seconds in length.  
  • Entrants can submit their videos now through June 19 on the Teens Drive Smart website.
  • A panel of judges will select 10 finalists based on how well the video compels viewers to be more safety-conscious when using their vehicles and how effectively and creatively the video communicates its message.

The 10 finalist videos will be posted on the Teens Drive Smart website, in addition to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook on July 14. The general public will then select the top three winners through online voting.

Official rules with complete entry, eligibility and prize details are available on the website.

Bridgestone said it also is bringing a free, hands-on driver training program, the Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience, to a dozen cities across the country this year. At the Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience, attendees learn potentially life-saving defensive driving maneuvers and safe driving skills from highly-trained instructors.

To see where the Teens Drive Smart Driving Experience is going next, click here.

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