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Alaska Students Will Tackle Teens’ No. 1 Killer


Anchorage, AK, Dec. 17, 2009 – High school students across the Pacific Northwest are reaching out to their peers to help prevent the No. 1 cause of death for teenagers in the U.S - auto accidents. South Anchorage High School is amongst one of 20 schools earning “Shift Into Safety” grants from State Farm, the nation’s largest auto insurer and a leader in teen driver safety efforts.

For the program’s fourth year, State Farm will award over $72,000 to fund projects aimed at reducing car crashes among young drivers. Schools will tackle issues like texting while driving, seat belts, speeding, and impaired driving. This year’s Shift Into Safety grants range from $1,250 to $5,000.

In 2007 in Alaska, 207 people died in crashes involving 15 to 20-year-old drivers. State Farm believes young people can best carry the message to their friends and classmates about being accountable for their actions behind the wheel - and in the passenger’s seat.

“In their first year on the road, teen drivers are almost ten times more likely to be in a crash,” said Maria Ventura, Public Affairs Specialist for State Farm. “Inexperience, distractions, and speed are key risk factors, and these Shift Into Safety projects let teens address those factors head-on with their peers.”

The student-led projects will use a variety of tools to motivate young drivers, including mock crashes, video productions, school assemblies, dramas, and outreach to other schools.  Most schools are including community partners, like law enforcement agencies or nonprofit organizations, in their projects

State Farm offered the Shift Into Safety grants to high schools within its six-state Pacific Northwest Zone — Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Forty-six schools applied. Local State Farm agents will present the grant checks in January, and schools will implement their campaigns over the remainder of the school year.

In 2006, State Farm and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia launched the Young Driver Research Initiative to continue to explore what motivates teen driving behavior and how to save lives. To learn more, visit statefarm.com/teendriving.

About State Farm

State Farm® insures more cars than any other insurer in North America and is the leading U.S. home insurer. State Farm's 17,000 agents and 68,000 employees serve over 75 million auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and more than 1.7 million bank accounts. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 31 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit statefarm.com®.

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