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    Posted December 20, 2010 by
    Washington DC, District of Columbia

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    In our nation’s capitol, Safe Kids Worldwide President & CEO John Formisano introduced a historic new highway safety education program entitled “Countown2Drive.” It is the first national safety program that educates teens on driving safety before the age of license eligibility. 

    Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman, and GM Foundation President Vivian Pickard expressed their strong support for the groundbreaking Countdown2Drive program.    


    Safe Kids USA, with the support of the General Motors Foundation is launching Countdown2Drive to equip teens ages 13 – 14 and their parents with safe passenger and driving knowledge. Historically, this education does not occur until teen reaches the state’s legal driving age. As younger teens are “counting the days to when they can drive” with great anticipation, Countdown2Drive aims to channel that enthusiasm and fill the education gap.


    Mile for mile, teenagers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash as compared to all other drivers,  according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  At age 13 and 14, a teen’s risk of dying while riding with a teenage driver is double what it was when they were younger, and it continues to rise each year.  Currently, there are nine states where teens as young as age 14 can obtain a driver’s permit and 33 states at age 15.

    Safe Kids USA coalitions throughout the United States will equip parents and teen pre-drivers in their communities with targeted safety information and easy-to-use Internet based web tools.  Parents will be encouraged to discuss key safety issues their teens will face when riding as a passenger as they prepare to drive.

    A key component of the Countdown2Drive program is a parent-teen Passenger Agreement.  Parents and teens can utilize the web tool at Countdown2Drive.org to establish family rules and guidelines for driving, rewards, and consequences.  Writing the rules into an agreement will help everyone to understand what the family’s safe driving expectations are.  Parents are encouraged to share the agreement idea with the parents of their teens’ friends enabling all kids in the social network have similar rules.


    Countdown2Drive highlights five non-negotiable safety rules for parent and teens so there is no confusion as the teen spends increasing time away from the parent and more time with peers:
    • Always wear a seat belt
    • Never distract the driver
    • Never ride with a driver who has been drinking or taking drugs
    • Never ride with drivers who have too little experience
    • Avoid drivers they know are unsafe


    The Countdown2Drive program complements Safe Kids USA’s portfolio of targeted safety information for parents, which is delivered on a national level through its network of 600 coalitions.  Countdown2Drive materials can be viewed at www.countdown2drive.org.

    In Washington DC, this is Michelle Makori for the CNN I-Report.
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