Meharry-State Farm Alliance

 According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, young drivers (15 to 20 years old) accounted for 6.4% of the drivers in 2010 yet 14% of reported car crashes. Vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for this age group.

To tackle the problem, the Meharry-State Farm Alliance, which was forged in 2002, is exploring peer influence among teens at 12 high schools in eight states regarding seat belts and distracted driving. The MSFA Teen Safe Driving/Service-Learning Program shows students how to collect data on seat belt use at their schools, conduct interventions, then collect data again to measure the programs' effectiveness.

During the 2011-12 school year, students in all participating schools competed for Teen Safe Driving Champion Awards, which ranged from $500 to $1500 and were presented in school assemblies by the Alliance and representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board. Students' ideas for reaching fellow teens ranged from student assemblies to slogan campaigns to 'tickets' for arriving on campus unbuckled or gift cards for arriving buckled up.

2012 Teen Safe Driving Champion

The Teens in Action Team at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Md., motivated fellow students to buckle their seat belts, and team leader Carolyn Conte, sophomore, was awarded the Teen Safe Driving Champion Award and a $1,000 scholarship. She and four team members also earned a trip to the National Youth Leadership Council Service Learning Conference in Minnesota in April 2012. Seat belt data collected by the Teens in Action showed an increase from 69% to 84% in usage following the intervention, with the most vulnerable populations being males and African Americans.

Continue reading about the Alliance's other projects.