I wrote yesterday about the important work of our partners in the fight for safe driving. And today it's a pleasure to congratulate one of those safety partners in particular, Project Ignition.
Project Ignition supports student-led school campaigns that address teen driver safety. Now, we know from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data that traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. But, through Project Ignition, teens are working to change that.
I met with students from Project Ignition last January in Washington, DC, and last night in Minneapolis I had the opportunity to present 10 school programs from around the country with Project Ignition National Leader awards. These schools were honored as the nation's most effective student-led teen driver safety programs:
- Belton High School Freshman Center, Belton, MO
- Fieldcrest High School, Minonk, IL
- Freedom High School, Bethlehem, PA
- Hoosick Falls Central School, Hoosick Falls, NY
- Idabel High School, Idabel, OK
- London High School, London, OH
- Plymouth/Whitemarsh High School, Plymouth Meeting, PA
- ROWVA High School, Oneida, IL
- Shelton High School, Shelton, WA
- Springlake-Earth High School, Earth, TX
The awards announcement was part of the National Service Learning Conference, a terrific showcase of the many ways America's students are developing important skills while also making a real difference in the world. Service and education make a powerful combination, and the kids I've met from Project Ignition really appreciate its value.
Of course, I appreciate the work of Project Ignition because it's focused on our highest priority, safety. And many of the schools recognized last night chose to educate their peers about the dangers of distracted driving.
And although young drivers may not want to take advice from adults, they do listen to each other. That's why the work these Project Ignition programs do is so important; it's teens telling other teens that --yes-- we love our smartphones, but you just can't operate a car and a phone safely at the same time.
I'm impressed by the different approaches I saw on display last night. From a demonstration that made a golfing pun out of "drive"--it turns out that texting while driving a golf ball is almost as difficult as texting while driving a car--to a distraction-filled driving simulator, the student efforts were both inventive and effective. Some, like a simple black board where people could write messages, were very emotional.
And, since April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, all of the projects were also timely.
I want to thank the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) for helping guide Project Ignition and State Farm for supporting it. But my biggest thanks goes to the outstanding students who are bringing a strong commitment and sense of purpose to this important safety work.
We surely need their dedication if we're going to get the message out that one text or call could wreck it all.