NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — May has been designated National Teen Safe Driving Month to highlight the importance of teens behaving responsibly behind the wheel. Many accidents happen because teens are texting while driving.

For the second year, New Country Motor Car Group is partnering with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) to encourage teens to take the pledge to not text and drive.

Joining us Saturday on Good Morning Connecticut, is Peter Keast, the General Manager of New Country BMW.

National Teen Safe Driving Month is an important month to focus on driving safety with all of the events surrounding the end of the school year such as graduation and prom. One of the main proponents of teen safety is the national organization, Students Against Distracted Driving or SADD. SADD is the leading peer-to-peer youth education and prevention organization with thousands of chapters in middle schools, high schools and colleges across the country, all run by volunteers.  As a car company, one of New Country’s main goals is to keep our roads safe for everyone, so it made sense for us to partner with them.

New Country BMW has created the “Contract for Life” program for teens and their parents to take the pledge this month to not text and drive. New Country will donate $1 to the CT chapter of SADD for each person who takes the pledge. As a non-profit organization, SADD relies on donations for all of its programs.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver with 3,328 people actually killed in those crashes in 2012. Of these fatalities, 11% under the age of 20 were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. For drivers 15-19 years-old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of the drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones.

BMW has a non-profit foundation that provides financial aid to the Tire Rack Street Survival program, so we want to support that initiative locally. The Tire Rack Street Survival School is a one day program designed to go beyond driver’s education minimums and give teens across the U.S. the tools and hands-on experience to become safer, smarter drivers. To gain further support for the cause, New Country is sponsoring the Real Art Ways Creative Cocktail Hour on May 21st at 6:00 pm in Hartford. When purchasing a ticket, attendees will have the opportunity to make a $1 donation to SADD and will learn more about the dangers of distracted driving at the event. Creative Cocktail Hours are so popular, we thought it was the perfect way to spread the word about distracted driving while supporting the amazing programs at Real Art Ways at the same time.

Keast reminds viewers of some recommendations to reduce distractions while driving, including:

  • Stop using cell phones to talk while driving.
  • Recognize that hands-free devices offer no safety benefit.
  • Understand the dangers of the cognitive distraction to the brain.
  • Don’t engage in any activity which takes your attention and concentration away from the road, like eating or putting on make-up.
  • Tell others about the dangers of cell phone distracted driving.
  • Parents need to set an example by not using a phone while driving.

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