Students Lead Peers from Distracted Driving with Innocorp’s M.E.T.H.O.D.®

Getting a lecture on safe driving from an adult is one thing. But engaging with your peers on the subject and leading them to safe conclusions has a lasting impact. In turning Innocorp’s M.E.T.H.O.D.® Campaign over to students in 2014, Project Coordinator Michelle Perdue of the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership (CCSAPP) gave students a chance to lead their peers on the way to safe driving practices.

Her idea of turning peers into driving safety leaders started when she reviewed Innocorp’s M.E.T.H.O.D.® products online.

“We felt that the students were ready for a real project,” Perdue said. So she talked to the students. “They wanted to do it,” she said.

She started with 20 student leaders who represented two high schools and four middle schools in the county. These leaders learned how to use M.E.T.H.O.D.® themselves in small groups alongside adult facilitators. They used Innocorp products such as Distract-A-Match®, the AIM® lenticular poster, Fatal Reaction®, and the DIES® Distracted Driving Mat.

After several trainings, the student leaders and adult facilitators taught students how to use M.E.T.H.O.D.® at the annual teen summit. This drew 130 students from two Cabell County high schools and four middle schools. Perdue mixed the students into cross-school and -age groups and broke them into small groups to work on their projects.

Perdue knew that driving safety concerns centered mainly on distracted driving. This included texting (“A hot button,” she said), prescription drug use and abuse, and the use of drugs, alcohol, and marijuana while driving. She asked each group to think of all the ways they could be distracted in a car and come up with a 30- to 60-second pledge speech—an elevator pitch to sell their project. Once the ideas were pitched, the schools voted for which ones they liked best and for activities to promote the M.E.T.H.O.D.® Campaign.

Some of these new leaders formed a Youth Engagement Committee to pick 10 to 12 projects that would work with their peers. Among those chosen were small campaigns such as yard signs and a big one: a PSA called “Be Alert. Just Drive. Save Lives.”

The students kicked off the campaign at a key area football game. That football game had an impact on students countywide. They chose a game in which rival high schools played against each other—a big deal in Cabell County.

From the first, Perdue said, the crowd was open to these student leaders. The students used giveaways like hot dogs to encourage adults and teens alike to listen to their message about the dangers of distracted driving and sign the pledge banner to drive safely. The 2,000 to 3,000 fans attending that game got to see high school rivals working together toward the same important goal. And, “some of the kids became pretty good friends,” said Perdue.

“We would have never been able to do this from scratch,” Perdue said of the Innocorp M.E.T.H.O.D.® Campaign. “I will use the campaign in coming years, too.”

Why? Perdue believes it helped the students’ campaign stand out from other distracted driving campaigns. “Others focus on one distraction to driving,” she explained. “We pointed out that there are more than just a couple of ways to be distracted.”

She also loved that M.E.T.H.O.D.® has students complete real-life surveys of drivers. “They caught me first,” she confessed with a laugh, admitting they saw her using her phone in her car. “They caught their teacher—and the teacher became the student.”

The Innocorp team, she continued, was helpful in many ways. They were open to her ideas, attentive, and they answered all her questions in a timely manner. But most of all, the M.E.T.H.O.D.® Campaign showed students how to be leaders among their peers.

“It gave them a lot of confidence,” Perdue said, “and showed them how much they’ve grown as student leaders.”

And she’s confident herself that the message the student leaders proclaimed will have long-lasting impact on their peers because it’s a message that’s easy to understand and remember.

You can be a hero just by driving safely.