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Teens Nationwide Take On No. 1 Killer at 'Keep the Drive U.S.A.'

With Help From MTV VJ Quddus, Teens Plot Plan of Attack for Reducing Teen Deaths Caused by Car Crashes, Just in Time for Deadly Fall Driving Season

CHICAGO, Sept. 30 -- Seventeen-year-old Lauren Hashiguchi of Beaverton, Ore., lost her grandfather in a car crash caused by a teen driver. Sixteen-year-old Jessica Mann of Greensboro, N.C., says her friend died in a late night head-on collision when she swerved into oncoming traffic. Mourning the loss of loved ones isn't the only thing these teens have in common. They're on a mission, along with 44 other teen leaders from across the country, to take on the No. 1 killer of teens -- car crashes -- through a teen movement they're leading called "Keep the Drive," funded by The Allstate Foundation.

Nearly 6,000 teens die each year in car crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Crashes cause more teen deaths each year than drugs, violence or suicide. Other than the summer (May through August), October is the deadliest month for teen drivers.

To reduce the statistics, the national teen leaders are participating in "Keep the Drive U.S.A.," a meeting of teen minds in Chicago from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. The teens discussed ways to tackle the teen driving problem on their own terms with online and on-the-ground activities. In addition, MTV VJ and host of radio program "TRL Weekend Countdown," Quddus, participated in discussions regarding teen driving attitudes and behaviors as well as peer-to-peer grassroots activism.

"Keep the Drive is about encouraging our peers to drive smart to protect everything that's important to us: our keys, cars, friends, futures and freedom," said Lorraine Radcliffe, of Wauconda, Ill., one of the teen leaders at the event who has lost friends and classmates to car crashes. "We're in the driver's seat with this movement. Messages about smart driving mean a lot more when we hear them from other teens."

The teens and Quddus staged a protest on Chicago's Michigan Avenue to raise awareness about the teen driving issue and recruit members to the movement. The teens split up into groups, with one teen from each group dressed up as a grim reaper to represent the No. 1 killer. The teens carried signs with Keep the Drive messaging while circling the grim reaper character, symbolizing their fight against their killer. After the protest, they left memorials made up of 16 objects to represent the 16 teens who on average die each day in teen-related motor vehicle crashes. The memorials included footballs, graduation caps, birthday presents and sports jerseys with messages about saving lives, such as, "Help make sure these 16 teens will walk across the stage on graduation day. To find out how, check out" The teens also passed out recruitment cards and Keep the Drive stickers and clings at teen hot spots.

"I was really impressed with the great ideas these teens shared," said Quddus, an activist for literacy, AIDS awareness and Hurricane Katrina victims. "They are motivated to go back home and spread the message about Keep the Drive online, through activism projects at teen hangouts, and local events. These teens have a passion to make a difference. I'm honored to help them grow their movement."

In 2005, The Allstate Foundation conducted a national survey of teen driving attitudes and behaviors. In the survey, 47 percent of teens said their friends are a big influence on how they drive. Key findings also included:

  -- Fifty-six percent of teens make and answer phone calls while driving.
  -- Thirteen percent write and/or read text messages (with 12.5 million
     teen drivers in the U.S., that's 1.72 million teens writing/reading
     text messages while driving).
  -- Nearly one out of four self-identified aggressive teen drivers
     (26 percent) speed by more than 20 miles an hour above the limit.

  For more information, go to

The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. The Allstate Foundation sponsors community initiatives to promote "safe and vital communities;" "tolerance, inclusion, and diversity;" and "economic empowerment." The Allstate Foundation believes in the financial potential of every individual and in helping America's families achieve their American dream.