SOURCE: Westfield Insurance

Westfield Insurance

June 07, 2012 10:25 ET

Westfield Insurance Foundation Announces Charitable Gift to Support Multi-Year Teen Driver Safety Study in Ohio

Insurer Partnering With Central Ohio Trauma Center to Investigate New Ways to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

WESTFIELD CENTER, OH--(Marketwire - Jun 7, 2012) - Westfield Insurance Foundation is pleased to announce a major philanthropic gift to OhioHealth's Grant Medical Center to fund a three-year study on teen driver safety. The $180,000 donation, designated over a three-year period, will fund research into the effectiveness of advanced driver training for teens and its effect on their long-term safety and driving record.

"When a teen is injured or dies in a car crash, everyone stops to think about how the tragedy might have been prevented," says Jim Clay, Westfield Insurance Foundation chairman and Westfield Group Leader and CEO. "Westfield Insurance Foundation has a long history of promoting teen driver safety and we are proud to be supporting what we consider to be landmark research in this area."

Westfield's funding of this research follows five years and more than $500,000 invested in teen advanced driver training programs. Recognizing that advanced driver training can be cost-prohibitive for many families, Westfield has partnered with others to provide free behind-the-wheel training and other educational programs. Westfield Insurance also offers a discount for eligible customers who complete in-class advanced driver training programs.

The leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers between 16 and 19 years old is motor vehicle crashes, which account for one in three deaths in this age group. And while distracted driving has made a lot of headlines recently, driver error accounts for the majority of U.S. motor vehicle crashes involving teens.

A study of about 800 serious crashes involving teen drivers found that inexperience and distraction, not reckless driving or alcohol, caused the majority of collisions. A recent study titled "Prevalence of teen driver errors leading to serious motor vehicle crashes," published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, stated the vast majority of crashes occur not because the teen drivers are behaving badly, but because they have not yet developed the crucial skills they need.

Seventy-six percent of the crashes were due to a critical teen driving error, they found, and three common errors accounted for nearly half of all serious crashes: lack of ''scanning'' skill to assess the environment sufficiently while behind the wheel; driving too fast for road conditions (not necessarily going over the speed limit, however); or being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle.

The Westfield Insurance Foundation-funded study will put more than 350 central Ohio teen drivers between the ages of 15.5 and 19 years old through an advanced driver training course at Bloom School of Driving Dynamix, located in Columbus, Ohio. There the teens will be put through a moderate-speed slalom drill, emergency-lane-change drill, wet-braking/steering drill and a spin-avoidance drill. Participants will also receive classroom instruction on driver safety.

Investigators will then follow these young drivers in the subsequent year to evaluate whether there is a lower rate of injury crashes compared to the general teen-driver population. The teen drivers will re-complete the advanced driver training to determine if they retained the skills they learned three to six months earlier.

"We see three serious, potentially life threatening injuries from motor vehicle crashes every single day, so it's definitely a problem," said Doug Paul, DO, medical director of Grant's Trauma Program. "There are few things worse than watching a young person being wheeled into my trauma bay hurt, scared and with a potentially life-changing injury. I think any research that helps better prepare drivers to be behind the wheel of a car is needed and important."

This study is investigational and may not be appropriate for all teen drivers. The effectiveness of providing advanced driver training for teens as a way to prevent motor vehicle crashes is being investigated by this study and any benefit it provides to teen drivers has not been determined.

About Westfield Insurance Foundation
Westfield Insurance Foundation was established in 2005 as an independent private foundation endowed by Westfield Insurance. In keeping with Westfield Insurance values, the Foundation seeks to support safety programs that prevent accidents in homes, cars and businesses; education programs that provide avenues to future employment; and community development programs that improve business and living conditions.

In business for more than 164 years, Westfield Insurance provides commercial and personal insurance in 21 active states, and surety services to customers in 31 states. Westfield is one of the nation's 50 largest property and casualty insurance groups, represented by a network of over 1,100 independent insurance agencies. Westfield Bank provides banking solutions for businesses and individuals, and Westfield Services provides service and training support for independent insurance agencies. Learn more about Westfield Insurance at

About OhioHealth
OhioHealth is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit, charitable, healthcare organization serving and supported by the community. Named by Thomson Reuters as one of the 10 best healthcare systems in America three years in a row, OhioHealth has also been recognized by FORTUNE Magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" six years in a row, 2007-2012!

Based in Columbus, Ohio, it is a family of 21,000 associates, physicians and volunteers, 18 hospitals, 23 health and surgery centers, home-health providers, medical equipment and health service suppliers throughout a 40-county area. OhioHealth member hospitals include Riverside Methodist Hospital, Grant Medical Center, Doctors Hospital-Columbus, Grady Memorial Hospital, Dublin Methodist Hospital, Doctors Hospital-Nelsonville, Hardin Memorial Hospital and Marion General Hospital. For more information, please visit our website at

About Bloom School of Driving Dynamix (BSDD)
BSDD, Inc. is a unique driving school providing first time and established drivers the opportunity to improve their skills through dynamic car control drills. While their primary focus is new teen drivers, BSDD can accommodate any driver including seniors, corporate/fleet, law enforcement and owners of SUVs and mini-vans.

BSDD was the first driving school in United States to enter the prestigious AAA Approved Driving School Network in their post novice defensive driving category. They are also an Official Partner of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and used by Franklin, Delaware and Ross County Juvenile Traffic Courts as a dispositional option for their teen traffic offenders.

Contact Information

    Jani Groza
    Executive Director
    Westfield Insurance Foundation
    Office: 330.887.6150
    Cell: 330.421.5301
    Email Contact

    Gary Christy
    Branding Leader
    Westfield Insurance
    Office: 330.887.6640
    Cell: 330.421.2064
    Email Contact