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This Holiday Season, Dallas teens Are Urged to “check themselves before they wreck themselves”

DALLAS, TX — In honor of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month and in light of the increase of automobile accidents during the holidays, State Farm® and its partners (Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Dallas ISD and the Latino Peace Officers Association) launched a campaign today at Sunset High School with a teen driver safety awareness assembly titled “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” This was the first of a series of teen driver safety assemblies and initiatives planned for Dallas high schools. In addition, State Farm Insurance awarded The Latino Peace Officer’s Association a $15,000 grant to assist in executing teen driver safety awareness initiatives in Dallas.

“We are devastated at the alarming statistics of automobile accidents and fatalities among teen drivers; and that is why we are strong advocates of teen driver safety,” said Ruben Saucedo, State Farm Insurance Agent. “State Farm Insurance is happy to award The Latino Peace Officers Association a grant that will help keep our youth and neighborhoods safe.”

Over 400 students at today’s assembly heard testimonials of teens that have experienced tragic automobile accidents and watched a skit presented by fellow classmates, under the direction of Ginger Holt, Director of Sunset High School Theatre Department. The program concluded with a Q&A session conducted by local police officers.

The equivalent of a classroom of teens dies each day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2006, almost 7,000 16-to 20-year-old drivers were involved in fatal crashes in the United States. In Texas alone, approximately 500 teens have died in vehicle crashes in 2005. Below are recommendations for teen drivers.

1. Be familiar with road signs and the rules of the road. If you don’t know what a sign means, don’t be embarrassed look it up in your driver’s handbook or ask your parents.

2. Drive defensively. “Scan” for hazards. One of the most common challenges young drivers have is scanning your surroundings for potential hazards. The tendency is to look only as far as the car in front of you, in effect “blinding” road conditions further ahead, and reducing your space to react to hazards. Keep an eye on the traffic several cars ahead and to the sides – look for brake lights, traffic signals, roadblocks, pedestrians and emergency vehicles.

3. Don’t follow vehicles too closely. No tail gating….

4. Wear your seatbelt.

5. Yes, drive at the speed limit. Don’t drag race, save all the racing for the XBOX. A few minutes of pleasure are not worth your life and your family’s grief.

6. Be in command when you are behind the wheel. Don’t use alcohol or drugs. Learn to operate the cars control before you drive.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice. The single most important thing you can do to stay safe on the roads is to have as much supervised practice behind the wheel as possible. Researchers recommend at least fifty hours. So when your parents still want to be in the car with you, cut them some slack.

6. Keep it interesting. When you are practicing with your parents, vary the routes, times of day, and driving conditions. This will give you more experience and confidence in a wide range of driving situations.

10. Once you receive your driver’s license, it will be tempting to drive where you want, when you want, and with whom you want. But research shows that night driving, driving with passengers, and driving without a destination are all factors that contribute to high crash rates. It is recommended that you wait at least 6 months before you start driving at night or with passengers.

About State Farm

State Farm® is the leading insurer of cars and homes in Texas and the nation. In addition to auto and home insurance, State Farm sells life and health insurance, and financial services products. Twenty-five percent of Texas households have a State Farm product. Over 3 million Texans have come to rely on the quality people, outstanding service, innovative products, integrity and financial strength of State Farm Insurance Companies.