American Family Insurance 'The Family You Choose' Campaign Profiles Success of Innovative Teen Safe Driver Program

Two Just Released Studies on Dangers of Texting While Driving Validate Program's Education Goal

Madison, Wis. (August 10, 2009)
— A car full of teens hoisted safely aloft by caring friends and family in a new TV advertisement airing this week symbolizes American Family Insurance's commitment to work together with parents to keep teen drivers safe.

The spot, part of the company's "The Family You Choose" marketing campaign, showcases the company's proprietary Teen Safe Driver program. Created by Element 79 Chicago, the ad airs beginning Aug. 10 in the more than 70 local markets served by the company.

"The advertising illustrates American Family's dedication to the safety and protection of our customers," said Lisa Bacus, vice president of marketing for the Madison-based mutual property/casualty insurance company. "Auto insurance protects our customers from many types of financial losses, but this program goes one step further by helping their children navigate the challenges and hazards they face as beginning drivers."

The 30-second commercial, "Human Wheels," depicts several worrisome scenarios common in teen driving – a rainy night with limited visibility coupled with distractions within the car, cruising down a winding country road on a possible first date, and sudden stopping before a train races across the tracks – where knowledge gained from the Teen Safe Driver program makes the difference in a young driver's safety. When a car suddenly pulls in the teen driver's path on a busy city street, family and friends take the place of the wheels and pass the car safely overhead to avoid a collision.

Teen Safe Driver is an innovative program that combines technology, expert advice and parental involvement to help young drivers overcome learning-to-drive challenges. American Family, in association with DriveCam Inc., provides the year-long Teen Safe Driver at no cost to American Family auto insurance customers who have a beginning teen driver in their household. The program is now available in all 19 of American Family's operating states.

Teen Safe Driver provides teens and their parents an in-vehicle video and audio unit that captures risky driving behaviors. Parents log in to a Web site, to view the driving report card, video events and coaching tips, including objective, third-party assessment of the teen driver's driving performance compared with other teens. The program is completely voluntary, and the insurance company does not have access to individual driving performance data.

More than 6,000 families have participated in the program and teens average a 70 percent decrease in high-risk driving events. Within the first six weeks of the program, driver and passenger seat belt use improved from 35 to 100 percent. Working collaboratively with their parents, teens make smarter driving decisions within weeks and after just four months in the program, parents say they feel significantly more confident when handing over the car keys.

"Sending a new teen driver out on their own is a worrisome time for parents, especially since traffic accidents are the number one cause of death among teens," said Bacus. "These advertisements demonstrate American Family's commitment to family and community being part of the solution."

The ad launches as two studies demonstrating the dangers of texting while driving were released last week, a concern especially among teens that use their phone as their primary form of communication. The AAA Foundation's second annual survey on the driving public found 95 percent of drivers said that texting was unacceptable behavior, yet 21 percent of drivers said they had recently texted or e-mailed while driving.