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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2007
Attorney General McKenna Teams Up with the Ad Council for New Youth Reckless Driving Prevention Campaign

UR the Spokesperson campaign empowers teens to ‘Speak Up’

OLYMPIA – Attorney General Rob McKenna is partnering with The Advertising Council on a new campaign aimed at putting the brakes on fatal car crashes involving teens and young adults.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office joins the Ad Council and a coalition of state Attorneys General and consumer protection agencies, and national partners such as SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and AAA (American Automobile Association), to promote the new UR the Spokesperson campaign to prevent reckless driving and save lives.

Car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens and young adults. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data show that, on average, more than 300,000 teens are injured in car crashes each year, nearly 8,000 are involved in fatal crashes and more than 3,500 are killed. NHTSA research also shows that teen drivers are involved in more than five times as many fatal crashes as adults. Young drivers are more likely to speed, run red lights, make illegal turns and die in an SUV rollover.

With the message “Speak Up,” the UR the Spokesperson campaign targets young adults between the ages of 15 and 21 and encourages them to be the spokesperson against reckless driving by empowering them to speak up when they are in the car with friends and don’t feel safe. The campaign also seeks to increase awareness about the dangers of reckless driving and educate teens on how to be safe drivers by focusing on safe speeds, avoiding distractions, and wearing seat belts.

“Standing up to a friend may not be popular or attractive, but someone’s life could depend on it,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. “In 2005 there were 109 fatalities in Washington State involving young drivers ages 15-20. That is 109 too many. The Attorney General’s Office has teamed up with the Ad Council’s UR the Spokesperson campaign to help show young people alternative ways to speak up.”

“Teens are greatly overrepresented in fatality collision statistics and any efforts to minimize these tragedies are important and supported by our agency,” said Lowell Porter, Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. “Encouraging ‘positive peer pressure’ may be an effective tool in the reduction of these collisions.”

Porter added “Research tells us time and time again that driver inexperience, particularly when coupled with unnecessary distractions only increases the likelihood of a serious collision.”

The UR the Spokesperson campaign includes a series of public service announcements (PSAs), a new Web site and a soon-to-be launched contest. Created pro bono by North Castle, a Stamford-based advertising agency that specializes in reaching teens, the PSAs target teen passengers, rather than the driver, and encourage them to speak-up when they don’t feel safe.

Research shows that young drivers may be more likely to listen to their friends than to adults, which is why the UR the Spokesperson campaign is using a peer-to- peer approach. When it is a friend who speaks up, a teenage driver will listen because they don’t want to damage the friendship or be labeled a bad driver.

“We want it to become not only socially acceptable, but socially expected for teens to speak up when they are riding with a friend and don’t feel safe,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “We also want to educate them about the dangers and consequences of reckless driving by reminding them to drive safely, wear their seat belts and limit distractions.”

For more information on the campaign and to see the ads, please visit
www.URtheSpokesperson.com.

About the Ad Council:
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives.

About Attorney General Rob McKenna
Rob McKenna is Washington’s 17th Attorney General. As the state’s chief legal officer, his top priorities including keeping children and families safe, protecting consumers and promoting government accountability.

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Contact: Dianna Lahmann, Public Affairs Intern, Office of Attorney General Rob McKenna, (360) 664-0403

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