HILLSBORO, Oregon - Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) has cranked up its 2012 national tour, beginning the ninth year of saving teen lives in partnership with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
Ford DSFL will visit 30 high schools in five northwestern states – Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. The tour features specially equipped vehicles and professional instructors who deliver a variety of activities that help young drivers develop important skills.
“By immersing ourselves in high schools for a day, the Ford Driving Skills for Life program seeks to leave a lasting impression on teens and ultimately make them safer drivers,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Inexperience is the leading cause of crashes in young drivers, and this program delivers the key skill sets that increase their knowledge and confidence.”
In 2011, Ford DSFL reached 35,000 teen drivers on the high school tour covering states in New England and the southeast. The same number of students is expected to participate in 2012.
Ford DSFL puts teen drivers behind the wheel on a specially designed road course that focuses on driver distraction, speed/space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition. These key areas pose the most problems for new drivers and play a role in more than half of the vehicle crashes involving young people. The teens also put on the drunk driving goggles to get a real taste of the danger posed by mixing alcohol and driving.
"It was super awesome. Fun way to learn," said Aimee Purdy, student, Liberty High School, Hillsboro, Oregon. "I'll be a designated driver when I'm older because I most defiantly don't want to drive impaired like it felt today!"
"It was an awesome experience," said Randy Taylor Heuer, student, Liberty High School. "To understand everything that you go through - texting and driving, being under the influence and driving, how much it can impair you, and then going into a rear wheel skid. Just the experience some people don't really get to have and to understand."
More than 3,000 teens are killed on American roads each year, making traffic fatalities the No. 1 killer of American teenagers, according to government statistics. DSFL is designed to make a difference with the most comprehensive driving skills program in the U.S. It provides free professional driver instruction, a Web-based curriculum, state grants and materials.
Reducing the number of traffic fatalities and injuries remains the key mission for DSFL in Ford’s global markets, where the program utilizes training to enhance the learning process and bridge the experience gap for new drivers.
Ford DSFL now is in its fifth year training newly licensed drivers in Asia, with programs in China, India, Taiwan, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. DSFL programs are tailored in each of these markets to reflect the local driving environment and road conditions.
Examples include localized training in Southeast Asia, with tips for driving in flooded and slippery areas, and in China, where snowfall in the northern parts of the country can present slick and sometimes hazardous road conditions.
DSFL provides training in both safe and more economical driving skills. Many DSFL participants in Asia are first-time drivers, as the region’s emerging economies are driving a rapid rise in vehicle ownership. So far, 50,000 have participated in the program across Asia with another 12,000 expected in 2012.
Ford DSFL continues to provide interactive Web-based training called “The Academy” on www.drivingskillsforlife.com, and free materials upon request for students, educators, parents and community organizations.
"In the time since Ford representatives first arrived on campus, I have heard a ton of positive feedback from students, staff and parents about the experience," said Mario De Ieso, counselor, Liberty High School. "We at Liberty were fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in this great event."