Teen Safety

In Control Program Toolkit for Teen Drivers: Activities and posters promote the norm to be in control when behind the wheel. The research-supported distracted driving program for teens includes posters, social media discussion topics, contests encouraging creativity, and more.

About the In Control Program

In Control is a school-based program designed for teen drivers that works to deter distracted driving by emphasizing being in control while behind the wheel. Rather than a lecture-based format, the program materials are fun and engaging for students. Designed with input from teachers, activities are aligned with standards of learning requirements and use minimal academic time. Interventions incorporate research-supported strategies and include a series of posters using American comic book style, social norms marketing, and student-involved challenges and contests. A suggested timeline is included, but the program can be tailored to meet your needs.

In Control Program Components

The following materials can be used in whole or in part to create your own unique “Distracted Driving” program tailored specifically for your school or other setting. The program materials are free for non-profit, educational use. Proper citation is appreciated.

A series of posters which use an American comic-book style help to engage students with humor. Each poster depicts a different scene where the phone is “in control” of the driver. Posters are attached below and are available in English and Spanish languages.

See Section I in the Toolkit

A poster, in the same American-comic book style as depicted in the kickoff posters, is circulated without a tagline. The students are tasked with creating a tagline for the poster. The contest flyer and poster are included in the toolkit.

See Section II in the Toolkit

The contest invites students to create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) about distracted driving. A PSA, generally speaking, is a message with the objective of raising awareness, changing public attitudes, and changing behavior toward a social issue. Students are encouraged to come up with a unique way to communicate to their peers and parents about the dangers of driving while distracted. Messages can be done in a variety of formats: music (e.g., rap, pop, etc.), artwork, video, poetry, radio or TV commercial, stories, etc. The message must be an original work by the student. A contest flyer is included in the toolkit.

See Section II in the Toolkit

Students come up with their own creative ideas on how to combat the problem of distracted driving. The solution can be a device, an intervention idea, creative idea for cell phone placement, or any number of other ideas conceived by the students. A contest flyer and teacher instructions are included in the toolkit.

See Section II in the Toolkit

This activity is unique in that it uses actual data pulled directly from Distracted Driving Surveys you can administer at your school. Students designing a poster can pick a question to build a theme for their poster, calculate the statistics of all the responses, and create unique posters to bring awareness to students that driving distracted is not “the norm” for teens within their school. Posters should be displayed around the school. Samples of past student posters, instructions, and surveys are included in the toolkit.

See Section II in the Toolkit

You may wish to measure distracted driving in your setting before and after implementing the In Control program in your school/setting. Comparing this pre and post data can help you determine how effective your interventions have been on the student population. Instructions and data collection tools for conducting student surveys and parking lot observations are included in the toolkit.

See Section III in the Toolkit

In this intervention component, a group of students take an active role in engaging peers to discuss how they can avoid driving distracted. The In Control Challenge can take place multiple times throughout the school year. Student liaisons select school events, such as football games, pep rallies, dances, or even simply a monthly table at lunchtime. Students devise creative posters, displays, or even skits around the topic of distracted driving and attend the pre-selected events to actively engage students in the issues. This is a chance for students to take an active leadership role and show their creative side.

See Section II in the Toolkit

This component encourages open communication among students and faculty about distracted driving. Discussions can take place on social media or your school’s preferred media platform for dialogue with students. Sample discussion topics are included.

See Section VI in the Toolkit

These support components are designed to introduce the material to parents, teachers, and other educators and to keep educators aware of the program’s progress throughout the year.

See Section IV and V in the Toolkit

Poster Prints

The in Control: Beyond Distraction program was developed with input from student focus groups and an advisory committee of school personnel. The program was conceptualized using Social Cognitive Theory and incorporates anti-manipulation strategies, principles of behavioral psychology, and social norms marketing approaches. A study was carried out via a pre-post control-group design in two Virginia public schools using a student-led approach for all interventions. The schools were 50% Black, 34% White, with 40% enrollment in the free and reduced lunch program. Classroom surveys (N=1147) conducted before and after the program assessed self-evaluations of distracted driving behaviors, beliefs about related risks and consequences, and perceptions of personal susceptibility to crashes. Anonymous parking lot observations of student drivers (N = 1644) were also conducted before and after the program which tallied talking on a cell phone, texting or other handheld technology use, and other distractions. Evaluation indicates that this program was successful in deterring distraction-related perceptions and practices as intervention group students gained more driving experience, whereas control school students’ distraction-related perceptions and practices worsened over time with increased driving experience.


Will, K. E., Maple, E. L., & Perkins, A. M. (2015). In Control, Beyond Distraction: A School-Based Program to Reduce Teen Driver Distraction. Invited presentation; Session: Research for Results. Safe Kids Worldwide PREVCON: Childhood Injury Prevention Convention, Washington, DC.