National Safety Council Teen Driving Manager Wins Excellence in Advocacy Award

National Safety Council Teen Driving Manager Wins Excellence in Advocacy Award

Kathy Bernstein Harris receives national recognition for helping save teen lives

​Itasca, IL – On Monday Kathy Bernstein Harris, senior manager of teen driving initiatives at the National Safety Council, received an Excellence in Advocacy Award from the Professional Women in Advocacy for her work as a protector of the nation's teen drivers. Since joining the Council in 2011, Bernstein Harris successfully established 10 state teen driving coalitions, helped develop parent education tools and advocated for the passage of state Graduated Driver Licensing laws, which reduce teen driver deaths by as much as 40 percent.

Bernstein Harris accepted the award at the organization's annual conference in Washington, D.C. 

kathyb.jpg"Under Kathy's guidance, the National Safety Council has continued to be a national leader in reducing car crashes among our most vulnerable drivers," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.  "Kathy's strategies directly involved delivering life-saving information to the people best suited to share it – teen drivers' parents – and invigorating grassroots efforts to effect change. We are as proud to have her working with us as we are fortunate."

In establishing the coalitions, Bernstein Harris recruited leaders, guided annual strategic planning, built a measurement framework and created evaluation tools to provide consistent, comparable results. Since 2011, states with coalitions have experienced a collective 34 percent drop in teen driver deaths, while deaths in states without coalitions dropped 19.5 percent.

Because parents have the most influence on their teens' driving habits, Bernstein Harris helped develop, an online resource that includes such tools as the New Driver Deal and the Digital Driving Coach. Bernstein Harris also became the Council's voice for keeping new drivers safe, blogging about her personal experiences teaching her own son to drive.

The award highlighted the Council's targeting of the risks to teen drivers, where key issues include:


  • Impaired driving. In 2011, nearly 1 million high school teens drove after drinking.[i]
  • Driving at night. Teens' fatal crash risk is nearly twice as high at night,[ii] yet the Council's survey found 45 percent of parents allow their teens to drive until 10 p.m. or later.
  • Driving with young passengers. A single young passenger can increase a teen driver's fatal crash risk 44 percent,[iii] but 60 percent of parents surveyed allow teens to drive younger siblings, and 43 percent allow teens to drive with friends.
  • Practice. NSC found 44 percent of parents do not spend more than the recommended* 50 hours supervising their teens' driving.
  • Distracted driving. Fifty-eight percent of teen crashes involve some form of distraction, with 12 percent attributed to cell phone use.[iv] 

Pictured above, left to right: Maureen Vogel, NSC media relations manager; Kelly Nantel, NSC vice president of communications and advocacy; Kathy Bernstein Harris, NSC senior manager of teen driving initiatives; Lorrie Lynn, NSC grants and evaluations director; and Tess Benham, NSC senior program manager of prescription drug abuse


About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council,, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public on the leading causes of unintentional death, with a focus on distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities. Safety+Health magazine, the Council's flagship publication, is a leading source of occupational safety and health information.


[i] According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
[ii] According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
[iii] According to Johns Hopkins University
*Recommendation from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[iv] According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

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