Appendix C: Summary of Final Working Group Meeting

Teen Unsafe Driving Behaviors
Summary of Working Group Meeting -
August 5, 2004

Following the completion of the focus groups, the project Working Group met one final time to review the findings and to strategize next steps. The results of that meeting are summarized below in the hope that some interest will be generated to pursue the recommendations made.

The meeting was held at PerformTech headquarters at 810 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia.

The following were in attendance:

  • Lori Millen, NHTSA Office of Communications and Consumer Information
  • Faithia Robertson, NHTSA Office of Communications and Consumer Information
  • Joan Harris, NHTSA Office of Communications and Consumer Information
  • Jennifer Beery, NHTSA Office of Impaired Driving and Occupant Protection
  • Pamela Chapman, NHTSA Office of Safety Programs
  • Jesse Blatt, NHTSA Office of Research and Technology
  • Kevin Miller, ABC Radio Networks
  • Gabriela Schwarz, Street Law Inc. and NOYS
  • Maria Rockwell, Youth leader from Aspira
  • Thom Bittner, PerformTech
  • Katie Moran, PerformTech

The meeting began with a review of the results of the 16 focus groups conducted in Fort Lee, New Jersey; Seattle, Washington; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Atlanta, Georgia. Katie Moran reviewed the findings by program area and responded to questions from the group. During this discussion a variety of ideas for messages and program initiatives were raised. They are included in the summary notes below.

Following this discussion, the group focused on what the next steps for this project should be.

The consensus of the group was that a new national campaign should be developed focused on teen driving. The audiences, elements, and sponsors for this program are discussed below.

Campaign Overview

Target Audiences

The primary audience for the campaign is teen drivers, within the first six months of starting their driving experience. This means that the primary focus will be on 16-yearolds with the age range being 15 to18 years old.

There are two critical secondary audiences: friends of teen drivers (who are likely to be teen drivers themselves), and parents of teen drivers.

A third audience category would be the institutions that deal with teen drivers: motor vehicle administrations, police departments, Driver’s Ed instructors, insurance companies, and health care providers (pediatricians and adolescent health specialists).

Message Characteristics

It was clear from the focus groups that teens are relatively sophisticated in terms of what types of messages they will accept. The following characteristics were strongly recommended:

  • Messages should be fact-based and encourage teens to use the information presented to make their own decisions.

  • Messages telling teens to do or not do something should be avoided – let the teens draw their own conclusions about what should be done.

  • Personal messages (delivered face-to-face by a trusted source) will be more effective than public service messages. Peers are likely to be the most effective agent to use to deliver these messages.

  • Messages and images should be powerful – teens like to be shocked and surprised.

  • Humor can be used but carefully – the topic is a serious one. Teens seem to like irony.

Message and Program Concepts for Teen Drivers

A variety of concepts were discussed during the meeting, not with the goal of choosing final one but rather to illustrate the types of concepts that should be explored.

Examples include:


  • This is your car (photo of ”tricked-out” car) – This is your car on booze (photo of totally smashed car).

  • Message that gives facts on the effects of alcohol on ability to drive.

  • Message on how to tell if someone has had too much to drink.

  • Key chain give-away with signs of impairment or phone numbers to call.

  • Parody of MasterCard Ad – Cost of various things you might buy during an evening out partying with friends (new outfit, tickets to a hot concert) and image of person taking keys from a teen driver who has been drinking – with tag line – saving a friend’s life – priceless.

  • Dial-a-Ride program for teens that their parents can enroll them in – teens can call if they have been drinking and should not drive or if their companion has been drinking and they do not want to ride with them. Could be commercially sponsored or organized by committed parents.

Distracted Driving:

  • Visual image about what can happen in the time it takes to load a CD

  • Message empowering youth to tell their friends to “Shut Up and Let Me Drive”

  • Visual image of friends in a car with an on/off switch superimposed and audio saying it is “OK to Shut Off the Noise”

  • Facts delivered to kids about the risk of a crash increasing with each added passenger

  • Program geared at parents that explains the passenger restrictions of Graduated Licensing

  • Campaign geared at “friends” empowering them to speak up if they think their friends are behaving recklessly

Speeding and Street Racing

  • Messages from celebrities involved in street racing films that present facts about racing versus what they see in movies.

  • Message that documents the amount of damage done to a car at different speeds. (Similar to Liberty Mutual ads but targeting teen drivers, not the parents buying the insurance.)

  • Message that documents the cost associated with a crash (car repair, traffic ticket, insurance costs).

Drowsy Driving

  • Sample policies that could be distributed to State and local school administrations concerning shifting start times for high school students.

  • Campaign to publicize the results of research on sunflower seeds if proven effective in reducing drowsiness.

General Driving Skill and Responsibility

  • Program similar to “How’s My Driving?” for trucks in which parents register their teen driver and post a bumper sticker on car for people to “Call My Mom” to report flagrantly unsafe driving.

  • Messages to parents from pediatricians about how to talk to their kids about driving.

  • A packet of material for a new driver, distributed by the insurance company, a car dealer, or the licensing agency that is more than just the driver’s manual.

  • Visual image comparing playing a street racing video game to driving on the highway. “This is a game – this is your life.”

  • Image of a kid in jail saying that “Jail time is not the worst punishment for what I did – knowing that I killed my best friend in a car crash – I will be paying that price for the rest of my life.”

  • Concept that reflects So Much of Your Life Happens in Your Car.

  • Message to parents to encourage them to hold their teen driver accountable, and to tell them that they love them.

Delivery Mechanisms

The most often recommended delivery mechanisms mentioned by the focus group teens include, in order of significance to them:

  • Radio, particularly a.m. drive time;

  • Movie trailers;

  • TV spots on cable stations viewed by teens (Comedy Central, WB, Cartoon Network, ESPN); and
  • Internet sites (recommended with lots of cautions about use of pop-ups).

To reach these audiences with these messages through these delivery channels, the group defined a three-tiered program which is described below:

  • A National Teen Driving Campaign, sponsored by DOT and ABC Radio Networks with sponsorship opportunities for car manufacturers, the movie industry (studios and theater chains) the music industry, insurance companies, etc. Sponsorship opportunities would be available for individual components of the campaign which are described in greater detail below. The national campaign could sponsor the development of radio PSAs which could be broadcast over all the national radio networks and by local affiliate stations. The campaign could also develop and distribute scripts for live read announcements by local radio personalities. Other corporate sponsors could buy air time for and produce spots for cable TV advertising and movie trailers. The corporate sponsors could also create promotions with local tie-ins. For example, if the Toyota Scion, which is targeting young drivers, became a corporate partner, there could be tie-ins with local car dealerships that could distribute information to parents and teen drivers. Similarly, it may be possible to involve the music industry that could provide a tie-in with concert tours in major cities. The possibilities for corporate involvement are limitless, especially considering the value of the teen market.

  • A Teen Driving Idea Sampler for distribution to community groups who want to implement local versions of the national campaign. To expand the reach of the campaign, NHTSA could produce an “idea sampler” with radio scripts, sample school policies, event concepts, art work, and other tools that could be distributed through the highway safety, adolescent health, and education communities. The sampler would focus on how the local groups can plug into the national campaign.

  • Demonstration Projects – in which NHTSA can join with communities to implement individual components and document their effectiveness. Innovative program concepts like the Dial-a-Ride program and the Call-My-Mom program could benefit from evaluation data to indicate both how they work and what impact they might have on teen driving behavior and safety. NHTSA would sponsor demonstration/evaluation research to support implementation of these concepts in selected communities and collection of process and impact evaluation data.

All three campaign components would operate under a common identity umbrella so that they can reinforce the central theme of the campaign. This theme would need to be developed and focus tested, but likely elements include the concept of friendship and making good choices for ourselves and our friends.


  • To move forward on the national campaign element, ABC Radio Networks needs to be able to approach the Secretary of Transportation with a partnership concept that can be approved and implemented. To accomplish this, NHTSA and ABC need to meet to define strategies. Once these strategies are defined, a campaign proposal can be developed and circulated to whatever levels deemed appropriate.

  • To continue to use the OPM TMA vehicle as a means to further define concepts, and to build program elements such as the idea sampler, the current management plan needs to be revised. Tasks that could be added include:
    • Facilitate brainstorming sessions to develop detailed lists of campaign elements and campaign identity;
    • Develop scripts and treatments for radio and cable TV spots that could be shared with potential sponsors;
    • Conduct focus groups to test these concepts;
    • Develop the contents and packaging for an idea sampler;
    • Develop concepts and mock-ups for products that could be distributed to teens and their parents through national campaign; and
    • Develop Statements of Work for Demonstration Projects (these demonstration projects would likely be awarded through NHTSA’s traditional procurement processes).

  • To involve the NHTSA program staff, briefings should be held to bring the staff up to date on the results of the focus group and to obtain buy-in for the proposed national campaign. Two separate briefings should be held.
    • Presentation to the NHTSA Youth Committee to review the research to date and to jointly strategize how to move forward to get approval for the national campaign concept.

    • PowerPoint presentation to the program staff within the Traffic Injury Control office to provide more-detailed information about the findings of the focus groups with regard to NHTSA program areas. This presentation is included in the current OPM management plan.