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Country Music Star Taylor Swift Rewards Top Holiday Carolers at Smart Driving Competition


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'Holiday Holla' contest finalists holla about smart driving to help save teen lives during holidays

BLOOMINGTON, Minn., Dec. 8 -- Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens, taking nearly 6,000 lives a year, and the holiday season is a deadly time for teen drivers. But that hasn't stopped a group of teens from spreading good cheer and some smart driving messages. Through one of the first contests of its kind coined "Holiday Holla," Danny Luebke and Carl Turner, both 18 from New Prague, Minn., won $15,000, courtesy of The Allstate Foundation, and were recognized for their creativity in being smart driving advocates.

"It's still so unreal," said Turner. "We're really excited about this -- performing was crazy, there were thousands of people there. Danny and I are so happy to have learned about Keep the Drive and The Allstate Foundation; we hope our all the other teens out there will check our song out on HolidayHolla.com and drive smarter as a result."

With the goal of saving lives during the holiday season, Keep the Drive -- a national teen-led smart driving movement funded by The Allstate Foundation -- challenged teens from across the country to rewrite and perform (or "holla") holiday carols with new, catchy lyrics about smart driving. From the many entries, teens voted on their favorites and the top five most popular performers belted it out at the final event where a panel of teen judges selected the grand prize winner.

Luebke, Turner and the four other teams of finalists from across the country performed at Mall of America on Dec. 8. The duo won the adoration of the crowds and judges with their song "Make a Difference," an upbeat acoustic version of the holiday carol "Good King Wenceslaus." Their smart driving lyrics and catchy melody even impressed Grammy(R) nominee, double platinum- selling recording artist and Holiday Holla judge Taylor Swift.

"Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens," said Swift. "That's a scary fact, but something we as young drivers have the power to change. It's great for me to have this forum to reach out to my fellow teen drivers to promote smart driving in a fun way, especially during the holidays. Hopefully teens will start to think twice before doing something dangerous like text messaging while driving."

The Holiday Holla event culminated with Swift presenting Luebke and Turner with the $15,000 grand prize, followed by the lighting of the Holiday Holla tree-an 11-foot tall tree strung with 6,000 lights to symbolize the 6,000 teen lives Keep the Drive-through its teen advocates around the country and other teens-strives to save in 2008. After the lighting ceremony, Swift performed five of her hit songs, including the holiday favorite "Santa Baby."

Nick Bates, 15, Fred Kreider, 15, and Lucas Wiggins, 14, all of Minneapolis, Minn., sang "Christmas Eve," a punk rock version of "We Three Kings." They took home second place and the $3,000 runners-up prize. "Lauren Lindstrom, 17, of Santa Cruz, Calif, Zoe Novic, 16, of Ben Lomond, Calif, and Eli Zinman, 16 of Santa Cruz, Calif, won $1,500 for third place.

According to a national survey of teens conducted by The Allstate Foundation, more than half (53 percent) of teens say their friends are the most effective influence in getting them to drive more safely. The Holiday Holla contest leveraged the power of the peer-to-peer approach to spread smart driving messages in an unconventional way among teens.

  Holiday Driving Tips for Teens
  -- Keep your eyes on the road. According to a national survey of teens
     conducted by The Allstate Foundation, 56 percent of teens talk on their
     cell phones while driving, and 13 percent read or write text messages.
     Driving with distractions is a major cause of crashes. Make it a goal
     to celebrate 2008 with your friends instead of the mortician.

  -- Slow down. The survey also found nearly 90 percent of teens admit to
     speeding. Speeding is one of the main causes for teen car crashes. Be a
     rebel and drive the speed limit this holiday season.

  -- "Holla" at your friends. Half of teens from the survey said they
     wouldn't speak up if a friend was driving recklessly. Would you speak
     up if your life was in danger? If not, make a New Year's resolution to
     grow a backbone.

  -- Use your buckle. Roughly two-thirds of teens who die in car wrecks are
     not buckled up, reports the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
     This season, give your friends the gift of life and tell them to buckle
     up.

  Tips for Parents on How to "Holla" about Smart Driving in the New Year
  -- Practice what you preach. Be a positive role model when you're behind
     the wheel. Your teen is more likely to be a calm driver, put down the
     phone and mp3 player, wear a seat belt and follow the rules of the road
     if they see you do the same.

  -- Don't rush the training process. Just because teens have permits or
     licenses, doesn't mean they're ready for every driving condition. The
     roads are especially dangerous during inclement weather. By easing into
     the training process, you'll ensure your teen will be ready for most
     situations.

  -- Empower your teen. Being a passenger in another teen's car can put your
     teen at risk. Make sure your teen knows it's okay to say something if
     he/she is uncomfortable while riding with a friend and help your teen
     to practice what to say in these situations.

  -- Understand your state's laws. Every state has Graduated Driver
     Licensing to help new drivers get their initial on-the-road driving
     experience under lower-risk conditions, protecting them while they are
     learning. Familiarize yourself and your teen with these requirements,
     and establish your own rules for when, where, how and with whom your
     teen may drive.

For more information on Holiday Holla and to view the finalists' videos, visit www.HolidayHolla.com. To learn more about the survey, and for state-by- state teen driving statistics, visit http://www.publicaster.com/info/allstate/teendriving/01/ for a press kit. Additional information on teen driving, including tips for parents on positively impacting their teen drivers, is available at www.ProtectTeenDrivers.com.

About Keep the Drive

Keep the Drive is a national teen-led smart driving movement funded by The Allstate Foundation. It educates teens about the issue, impacts the way they think and act in the car and empowers them to become smart driving activists

in their schools and communities. For more information, visit www.KeeptheDrive.com.

About The Allstate Foundation

The Allstate Foundation is an independent, private, non-profit organization funded by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. Since 1952, the Foundation has developed and funded programs in communities across the United States. Today, the Foundation focuses on three areas: safe and vital communities; tolerance, inclusion and diversity; and economic empowerment. Teen driving has been a priority for the Foundation since 2005.