TORONTO, October 4, 2013 - Sixty teens at a high school in Mississauga, Ontario, have just completed a 23-hour technology fast- a process which included handing over their smartphones - in order to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving. The students from Rick Hansen Secondary School were the first in the country to take part in Distraction-Free 23, developed for the fact that you are 23 times more likely to crash if you drive distracted.
Distraction-Free 23, a national initiative launched by Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, takes the company's distracted driving awareness programs to the next level and will culminate in a national event on November 22-23, 2013. The company is calling on teens across the country to take the lead from the Rick Hansen students and also go 23 hours without their tech devices.
"This is the fourth year that we have operated our Action Against Distraction programs to raise awareness about the risks and consequences of distracted driving," says Saskia Matheson, spokesperson for Allstate Canada. "DF-23 came about when we put the fact that the number one cause of death among Canadian youth is car collisions together with the knowledge that teens are also the most active on tech devices, like mobile phones and music players," says Matheson. "Teens are the leaders of the future - so let's reinforce safe driving habits that will last a lifetime."
Despite legislation, distracted driving is still a problem. A 2013 study commissioned by Allstate Canada and Abacus Data revealed that 90 per cent of respondents admitted to some form of a distraction behind the wheel, an increase of 15 per cent since Allstate Canada conducted a similar survey in 2010.
The students and faculty at Rick Hansen Secondary School took the lead in this initiative by working with Allstate on the Distraction-Free 23 event. They are also working on several other initiatives that form the school's Distracted Driving Month in October.
"At our school, we've seen the effects of distracted driving first hand," says Rick Hansen Secondary School Principal Sandra Dussiaume. "We want to make sure that never happens again." Allstate Canada is also hoping that if teens demonstrate they can go without their devices for 23 hours, others will realize they have no excuse calling or texting while they're driving.
Students from the school, who handed over their technology devices at 1:00 p.m. on October 3rd, spent the night at the school and took part in a variety of team building exercises and workshops to build skills in face-to-face communication and advocacy. They also learned about distracted driving facts:
- Transport Canada data from 2010 shows us that almost 23 per cent of motor vehicle fatalities were 15 to 24 year olds;
- Distracted driving is a factor in about four million motor vehicle crashes in North America each year;
Though targeted at teens, in fact anyone can sign the Distraction-Free 23 pledge at distractionfree23.ca to be free from their tech devices for 23-hours from November 22 to November 23. Those who pledge can login with their Facebook or Twitter accounts to have an avatar put on their social media profile, which will let their friends know that they are disconnecting from the online world for the duration of the event.
Details about other Allstate Canada distracted driving initiatives can be found at:
Pictures from the 23 hours can be found on Facebook. B-roll is also available on request.
About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of Canada's leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products, and also recently named to Aon Hewitt's Best Employers in Canada list. "The Good Hands Network®" enables consumers to contact Allstate Canada through one of 82 community-based Agencies, directly online at allstate.ca and through the Customer Contact Centre at 1-800-Allstate. Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates and has partnered with organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), Crime Stoppers, United Way and Junior Achievement. Allstate is also working with Accident Awareness and Teens Learn to Drive on the issue of distracted driving. To learn more about Allstate Canada, visit allstate.ca.
National media may contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview with a local spokesperson from Allstate Canada to discuss the country-wide initiative.
Thornley Fallis Communications
T: 416.515.7517 x 350