Media Release: Countdown 2 Drive Coalition

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Safe Passengers Today; Good Drivers Tomorrow

12-23-2010 (Dayton, OH) -

Safe Kids USA with the support of the General Motors Foundation is launching Countdown2Drive, national education program designed to equip teens ages 13 to 14 and their parents with safe passenger and driving knowledge well before the teen is ready to drive legally. The program’s goal is to help teens learn how to protect themselves in vehicles as they become more independent. More than 350,000 teens were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. 
“Our goal is to educate young teens, as they begin to transition from passengers to drivers,” said Jessica Saunders, Safe Kids Greater Dayton coordinator.  “Our research shows teen pre-drivers are eager to learn, and they are focused on the freedom a driver’s license and access to a car can provide.  By preparing them to be good passengers, Countdown2Drive will help decrease the number of crashes and injuries that occur during their first and most dangerous year of driving.  Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens, with driver inexperience and distractions among the main causes of teen crashes.”

While equipping the teen to drive has historically occurred when the teen reaches the state’s legal driving age, there is little or no education and training that brings passenger and driver safety information to young teens who are counting down the days to when they can drive.  The Countdown2Drive program aims to fill this 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. 

The Safe Kids Greater Dayton will join other Safe Kids coalitions throughout the United States to 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 or as they prepare to drive.  “Parents will have the opportunity to reinforce safety habits that can protect their teens when they ride with other drivers – and these same behaviors will help keep them safe when they get behind the wheel,” said Saunders. 

A key component of the Countdown2Drive program is a parent-teen Passenger Agreement.  Writing the rules into an agreement will help everyone to understand what the family’s safe driving expectations are.   

"Since 1997, General Motors and the General Motors Foundation have enjoyed a successful partnership with Safe Kids USA in supporting the Safe Kids Buckle Up child passenger safety program, which has reached more than 21 million people,” said John Montford, Foundation Chairman.  “We look forward to an equally successful launch of Countdown2Drive and helping to maintain it as a national and sustainable education and awareness teen passenger safety program.”  

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. 

About Safe Kids Greater Dayton

Safe Kids Greater Dayton works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14.  Safe Kids Greater Dayton is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury.  Safe Kids Greater Dayton was founded in 1994 and is led by The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton.

About General Motors Foundation

Since its inception in 1976, the GM Foundation has donated hundreds of millions to deserving American charities and to disaster relief efforts worldwide. The GM Foundation focuses on Education, Health and Human Services, Environment and Energy and Community Development initiatives, mainly in the communities where GM operates. For more information, visit

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