Teens have higher fatality rates in motor vehicle crashes than any other age group. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all 15 to 20 year olds according to the most recent data available from the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2011, 1,987 15 to 20 year old drivers died in motor vehicle crashes; another 180,000 young drivers were injured in motor vehicle crashes. Additionally, in 2011, 10 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were between 15 and 20 years old.
These statistics are attributable to several factors, including a lack of driving experience, a greater innate propensity for risk taking and immaturity, and, at times, a higher susceptibility to faulty judgment.
The National Youth Leadership Council’s Project Ignition program addresses teen driver safety issues and works with youth to lead campaigns that make measurable differences in their schools, in their communities, and beyond. It makes use of research based on peer-to-peer strategies that operate with sufficient duration and intensity to influence teen driving behaviors. It is a unique program also in that it uses a service-learning strategy to engage teens as leaders and to embed the topic of teen driver safety more deeply within a school’s culture by making connections to academic goals. With more than ten years of experience, Project Ignition has supported teens as leaders and responsible citizens by encouraging safe driving practices among their peers, their families, and their community members.