Hamilton, ON – Friday, July 14, 2003 — While automobile insurance rates see double-digit increases, a Canadian initiative has been busy reducing costs at source by preventing car crashes and hence removing costs associated with claims. The I Promise Program – teen safe driving initiative is a Canadian solution to the problem of teen driver safety increasing in popularity in the US. Teen driver car crashes are the leading cause of permanent injury and death in this group – a fact costing insurers millions of dollars annually and immeasurable suffering to parents.
Now in our second year of operation, we have learned that this program has reduced teen driver crashes in Lancaster County, South Carolina by 29%,says Gary Direnfeld, developer and director of the program. This data mirrors reductions seen through graduated licensing, which should be no surprise as our program is akin to “parent controlled” graduated licensing. We are now starting to hear from parents saying, “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. These are parents who are kicking themselves for not using the program as their teens have since been involved in crashes.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the impact of car crashes as a health issue and as such has designated “Road Safety” as the theme of next year’s World Health Day (WHD), to be observed, April 7, 2004.
The I Promise Program is a private initiative and recognizes that the subset of the population at greatest risk with respect to car crashes are novice young drivers. To that end, the I Promise Program provides parents with the necessary tools to discuss and “contract” rules for the safe and proper use of the family car as they are set to drive independently. Next, parents and youth affix a rear-window decal that displays a toll-free number and asks the question, “Am I Driving Safely”. This decal facilitates community reports on driver behaviour and so acts as a mechanism of accountability to the “Parent-Youth Mutual Safe Driving Contract”.
Developed over the course of two years with input of stakeholders in traffic safety worldwide and then focus group research carried out under a grant from the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, the program has been operational in North America for 18 months. With about 175 teens now on the program, representing 11 US states and 3 Provinces, only one call has been taken by call center and that was to make a report of “perfect driving”. We believe this bodes well for the program, as our goal is to improve driver safety, not catch bad drivers, explains Direnfeld.
Direnfeld also believes that it behooves every parent to use all strategies to improve their teen’s safety when new behind the wheel and all insurers to adopt a program that promotes the win/win of loss and injury prevention. He doesn’t want anymore “shoulda, woulda, coulda” parents.
Direnfeld’s mission is for all insurers to offer parents the option of participating in the program with their young novice drivers and in so doing, receive a modest rate reduction that mirrors those provided for attending driver education, or for maintaining good grades. He encourages parental and political support to make this happen. It also provides the most efficient delivery of the program.In the meantime, parents can obtain a registration form for the program simply by going to the website: www.ipromiseprogram.com