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Nationwide Launches ’08 Driving While Distracted Campaign

‘DWD’ Events to involve NASCAR Drivers at local high schools

Columbus, OH — Today, Nationwide Insurance officially launched its 2008 DWD - Driving While Distracted - national campaign in conjunction with its sponsorship of the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Nationwide will bring NASCAR drivers to local high schools throughout the country to drive home the message that multitasking behind the wheel puts drivers and their fellow motorists at risk. Students and community members will receive a firsthand look at the impact driving while distracted has on their driving abilities while racing in a NASCAR simulator.

“Professional drivers in our sport can’t afford to be distracted in even the slightest manner,” said Joe Balash, NASCAR Nationwide Series director. “This program is a great opportunity to teach young drivers the importance of staying focused behind the wheel.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted drivers account for nearly four out of five crashes in the U.S. The problem is especially bad for young drivers. In 2007, Nationwide conducted a consumer poll and launched a campaign aimed at educating consumers on the very real risks posed by DWD. Nationwide’s DWD survey of more than one thousand drivers, found younger drivers are especially at risk. In fact, one in three drivers 18 to 27 years old admit to always multitasking while driving and 37 percent send text messages while driving.

Distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road even for just seconds put drivers and their passengers at great risk.

“At Nationwide, we’re as much in the business of preventing accidents as we are in reimbursing people after an accident,” said Bill Windsor, Nationwide’s associate vice president of Safety. “Text messaging comes natural to Gen Y-ers. However, multitasking while behind the wheel is quite different from multitasking while sitting at home.”

Nationwide’s “Life on the Go” campaign raised national awareness about DWD and was cited by lawmakers as validation for related bills to drive change in motorist behavior. Additional Distracted-driving-related bills are pending in numerous states.

The first event in Nationwide’s national campaign kicks off Wednesday, April 2, 2008 with NASCAR drivers Kenny Wallace and Brad Coleman in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at Southlake Carroll Senior High School. In addition to spreading the message of dangers of driving while distracted, the local events will provide race fans an opportunity to get driver autographs, clock the fastest time in a NASCAR racing simulator, meet local Nationwide agents and win prizes. The grand prize for the sweepstakes at the local event is the Nationwide VIP Experience at Texas Motor Speedway, which includes behind-the-scenes NASCAR and ESPN tours. No purchase is necessary, and fans age fourteen and over can enter at the events. Fans can look for similar events throughout the 2008 NASCAR season.

Nationwide and the National Safety Council developed www.NationwideSmartRide.com, a Website to provide parents and teens free tools and resources to help develop safe drivers and reinforce smart behavior. It is available free to anyone regardless of whether they are a Nationwide customer.

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