Peer-to-Peer Messaging

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Success In Ohio

Impact Teen Drivers supports every generation in making the conscious commitment to safe driving, and disseminating the message throughout communities so that the culture of driving may evolve to one that is distraction-free. Last week’s Ohio Youth Traffic Safety Conference embodied this ideal, with peer-to-peer messaging as the event’s focus.

With sponsorship by the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), State Farm, Impact Teen Drivers, and with additional support from, hundreds of youth leaders from across Ohio assembled in Columbus to champion safe driving. Rather than mournfully accepting crashes as an inevitable killer of tends, the Ohio Youth Traffic Safety Conference participants focused on finding solutions to the epidemic.  

The Ohio Youth Traffic Safety Conference provided a forum for teen leaders to fine-tune their traffic safety messaging to most effectively reach their communities. They received advocacy training and gained access to evidence-based resources. Almost 30 different schools were represented at this culture-changing event, and now over 200 teen and adult leaders will be going back to their communities to implement action plans based on the "What Do You Consider Lethal?" program and other Impact Teen Drivers resources, materials, and curricula.

 The Conference included a lively opening session led by motivational speaker, Harriet Turk, and a riveting general session hosted by the incredibly inspirational, Martha Tessmer. It also offered 9 workshops that all focused on perfecting peer-to-peer messaging to ultimately change the driving culture. The conference concluded with a dynamic action planning session, facilitated by Rick Birt.

One participant tweeted: “Had an amazing time this weekend, learned so much and ready to take it to our town to teach others! @whatslethal.”

Another expressed a similar enthusiasm for ongoing advocacy: “This weekend was a great experience! Can't wait for what's in store for our school and community! @whatslethal”

The event received many other tremendously positive responses, including:

“The #OYTSC was a huge success! Great people, activities, and information. Loved it. Would love to do it again! @whatslethal”

“@whatslethal seriously have learned so much this weekend I'm glad I came!!! :D :D” 



“Everybody’s Doing It"

The misconception of, “everybody’s doing it,” is deep-rooted in teen culture, and can be detrimental if the “it” is something harmful. However, this mentality is not without its use. Young people have credibility with young people. Teens look to other teens for cues on how to act, dress, speak, etc. so why wouldn’t they look to other teens to determine what is and is not acceptable driving behavior?

Although parents remain the number one influencer of teen driving behavior and attitudes, it would be shortsighted to overlook the power of peer-to-peer messaging. It is not enough to just engage parents in the issue of driving safety, because positive peer norms are instrumental to change culture. The more teens see other teens taking a stand against reckless and distracted driving—promoting safe driving (“everybody’s doing it”)—the more they will conceptualize safe driving as a desirable practice and follow suit.

Impact Teen Drivers, as an organization, is pro teen. In every presentation or training, instead of talking at them, preaching or scolding, we work to connect with teens emotionally and empower them to make good decisions as a passenger and a driver. We also leave them with the tools to spread the message—free access to our resources.

Impact Teen Drivers has a multitude of activity and discussion guides to help teens become leaders on traffic safety issues in their community. We offer the Create Real Impact Contest, which hinges on using peer-to-peer messaging to promote solutions to reckless and distracted driving. Social media is an important outlet through which to reach teens, which is why we have a Twitter account specifically for a teen audience, and why our contest, Create Real Impact, has on online voting component.

Our ultimate goal is to change the culture of driving to one that is distraction-free, and we believe that a multifaceted approach is the recipe to attain this. Positive peer norming is a key ingredient.

Teen Website: 

Bi-annual Contest Website:

Consider bringing a Lead the Leaders event to your school or community, to train teen leaders on how to fine-tune their peer-to-peer traffic safety efforts