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AG Cooper joins campaign to curb reckless teen driving

Release date: 1/25/2007

‘UR the Spokesperson’ campaign encourages teens to speak up to save lives

Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper today joined a new campaign aimed at putting the brakes on fatal car crashes involving teens and young adults.

Cooper joins The Advertising Council and a coalition of other state attorneys general, consumer protection agencies, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), and AAA (American Automobile Association), to promote the new UR the Spokesperson campaign to prevent reckless driving and save lives.

“Nearly every week we hear the tragic news about young people killed or injured on our roads,” said Cooper. “Our message to teens is simple. If your friend is driving and you don’t feel safe, speak up. Helping your friends become better drivers can save lives.”

The campaign comes to North Carolina following a number of recent fatal wrecks in the state where teens were behind the wheel.

A crash this past weekend took the lives of two Johnston County teens who collided with each other, also injuring another teen. Earlier this month, a Union County woman was killed when a teen driver hit her car head-on near Monroe. The driver will likely face charges. One Wake County high school has seen six students killed in car crashes in the past year, including a crash last week that took the life of one student while a former student faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving and driving while impaired.

Car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens and young adults. National Highway Traffic Safety data show that on average more than 300,000 teens are injured in car crashes, nearly 8,000 are involved in fatal crashes and more than 3,500 are killed each year. In North Carolina, 304 teens were involved in deadly crashes in 2005, and 135 were killed. NHTSA research also shows that teen drivers are involved in more than five times as many fatal crashes as adults. Young drivers are more likely to speed, run red lights, make illegal turns and die in an SUV rollover.

With the message “Speak Up,” the UR the Spokesperson campaign targets young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 with public service announcements and an interactive website. The campaign aims to prevent crashes by encouraging teens to speak up when they are in the car with friends and don’t feel safe. The campaign also seeks to raise awareness about the dangers of reckless driving and to educate teens on safe speeds, avoiding distractions, and wearing seat belts.  

Research shows that teen drivers may be more likely to listen to their friends than to adults, which is why the UR the Spokesperson campaign is using a peer-to-peer approach. When it is a friend who speaks up, a young driver will listen because they don’t want to damage the friendship or be labeled a bad driver.

“We want it to become not only socially acceptable, but socially expected for teens to speak up when they are riding with a friend and don’t feel safe,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “We also want to educate them about the dangers and consequences of reckless driving by reminding them to drive safely, wear their seat belts and limit distractions.”

For more information on the campaign and to see the ads created by North Castle, a Connecticut-based advertising agency that specializes in reaching teens, please visit www.URtheSpokesperson.com.