Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., and distracted driving is one of the main reasons for these accidents.
In an effort to reduce distracted driving, the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Kohl's Department Stores are launching a campaign called "Kohl's Drive Smart" initiative targeting teens and parents.
“Teen drivers and their passengers are at particular risk of injury from car accidents, and we see every day how even the most simple, seemingly innocuous distractions can result in tragedy,” said Peter Ehrlich, M.D., director of the Pediatric Trauma Center at U-M’s C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and the principal moving force of the grant from Kohl's Department Stores.
The $300,000 grant is made possible through the Kohl's Cares cause merchandise program in which the department store sells $5 books and plush toys, and 100 percent of the net profit benefits children's health and education programs like this one.
The online Kohl's Drive Smart initiative offers free tools like the teen-parent driving agreement, with vows such as “I will wait until stopped to search for music,” and “I will rely on passengers to make calls or text for me,” to be signed by teens before hitting the road as new drivers.
The initiative also targets parents, who play an important role in their kids' driving habits.
“Parents who occasionally eat fast food in the car or take a quick phone call should remember that their kids are watching," said Ehrlich. "Young people who perceive that their parents drive while distracted tend to do the same.”
The program was developed with the U-M Injury Center and the U-M Transportation Research Institute.
Research shows that 87 percent of adults and 92 percent of teens engage in at least one distracted driving behavior every time they drive, and that teens are four times more likely to have an accident when distracted.
Kohl's Drive Smart's new website is kohlsdrivesmart.org, and it includes an interactive driving simulation that asks teens what they would do in situations such as when they hear a text come in on their phones.