DALLAS – Ford Motor Company Fund announced an investment of $550,000 in North Texas community programs and nonprofits during the next 12 months as part of a new partnership with area Ford dealers. This brings Ford’s North Texas donations during the past decade to more than $5 million and more than $20 million statewide.
As part of this initiative, the first wave of 600 local teen drivers is behind the wheel today with professional drivers from the Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program. Ford DSFL is offering six free driving clinics on April 5-7 at Fair Park Dallas – the culmination of a two-week, safe driving campaign at area high schools.
A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that teen driver fatalities are on the rise among 16- and 17-year-old drivers. Traffic crashes are the number one killer of teens, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Ford is committed to making a lasting difference in our communities,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “We listen to our customers and neighbors, and we know they’re concerned about the future of our young people and families.”
Ford is focusing its philanthropic efforts on areas of greatest concern to North Texas residents including education, teen driving safety and hunger relief. Today’s event also includes the donation of two Ford Explorer Sport vehicles to the Irving Independent School District for use in transporting students and teachers to school events, as well as a Ford Transit Connect van to the North Texas Food Bank for use in the nonprofit’s collection and distribution of food. The announcement of additional donations will be made by Ford and its dealers during coming months.
“Ensuring Dallas area teen drivers are equipped to safely navigate our roads and highways is a priority for our community,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “Educational programs like Ford’s Driving Skills For Life greatly enhance our efforts to ensure area teenagers are safe and better suited to handle roadway challenges. We appreciate Ford’s involvement in teen driving safety and other critical needs in our community.”
"We are delighted that Ford is taking on this major project for North Texas, and look forward to joining with the company to make a difference in our community,” said Charlie Gilchrist, chairman, North Texas Ford Dealers Advertising Fund. “The North Texas Ford Dealers are committed to the future of our communities.”
Ford Motor Company Fund and GHSA are bringing Ford DSFL directly to new young drivers and their parents for the 10th year through a variety of activities including assemblies on teen driving challenges at Newman Smith, Singley, North Dallas and other high schools.
Ford DSFL is the most comprehensive teen safe driving program in the United States and has trained more than 550,000 new drivers around the globe through online and hands-on professional driver instruction, free educational materials and state grants and partnerships, according to GHSA. Ford DSFL driving clinics include closed course exercises designed to strengthen skills in four key areas shown to be major contributors to teen driving accidents: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, distracted driving, and speed and space management.
“Driving Skills for Life is in Texas at the perfect time,” says Terry Pence, director, of Traffic Safety, Texas Department of Transportation. “This program helps participating teens prepare by putting them behind the wheel, helping to unlearn bad habits and relearn how to properly manage a vehicle. Our hope is that the participants share what they learn with their friends and parents and that the safe driving messages will spread among our irreplaceable Texas teenagers.”
Another program – Ford Driving Dreams Tour – is encouraging on-time high school graduation in the Irving Independent School District. The comprehensive program, which kicked off at the beginning of this school year, is providing $30,000 in scholarships, a peer-to-peer after-school program, and an innovative district-wide contest with $21,000 in prizes.