The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's annual Teen Driver Safety Week runs through Saturday, and NJM Insurance Group is trying to reach teens, and those who influence them, by reaching out on social media with the help of some local celebrities.

Olympic and World Cup champion Carli Lloyd and 2020 Miss New Jersey Jade Glab are among those to participate so far in NJM's "Share the Keys" challenge on Instagram's IG Reels feature, a move to digital space, which NJM Director of Consumer Safety Violet Marrero said was appropriate given the shift of education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The involvement of Lloyd and others has been crucial for NJM to spread its message, according to Marrero.

"I just think it's important for us as a state, whenever you have someone like Carli who's willing to lend her voice to an issue like that, to just show how important this is," she said.

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Marrero said motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and sadly "a lot of people get knocks on their doors that they don't want to get." So this is an attempt to engage more actively with children, parents, and educators and try to drive down those numbers.

One of the goals of using social media is for the campaign is, interestingly enough, to keep teens off social platforms once they hit the road.

"Anything that they do that takes their attention from the wheel, whether that's eating, or changing the station, talking to a friend, most certainly using their devices, that's a distraction," Marrero said, adding that those distractions create a domino effect. "Distraction is the leading cause of crashes, and crashes are a leading cause of brain injuries, and crashes and brain injuries are the leading causes of deaths for teen drivers."

NJM hopes that teens who see the "Share the Keys" challenge will shoot their own videos and invite other teens, friends, and family to do the same, tagging @njminsurance and using the hashtag #NJMJustDrive.

That includes adults, who Marrero said should be mindful of their own driving behaviors because they serve as constant role models, and kids will pick up on older drivers' habits — good and bad.

"They're most vulnerable because they're building a new skill set, so anything that you do that takes you away from that task is going to be a mistake that could cost you your life," Marrero said.

An online teen driver safety quiz is also available, and for every completed quiz, NJM has pledged to donate $1 to nonprofit organizations like the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, one of its partners in this campaign.

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