DEARBORN – As prom and graduation season approaches, Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) is reaching out with programs designed to address the increase in life-endangering risks that teen drivers face on the road.
“This a time of year when many teens request, and parents provide, expanded driving privileges,” said Jim Graham, manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life. “Unfortunately, safety can take a back seat to the excitement associated with the many celebrations around prom and graduation.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among ages 15 to 20. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported a slight upward trend in teen traffic fatalities during the first six months of 2011, which is the most recent data available.
Teen drivers, mile to mile, are in three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers, claiming the lives of nearly 3,000 teens each year. The under-20 age group also has the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes.
During April, Ford Driving Skills for Life will provide more than 1,000 teens with advanced safe-driving skills from some of the nation's top professional driving instructors in free, hands-on driving modules. Ford DSFL is visiting high schools in Spokane and Washington’s Tri-Cities with a full day of multifaceted activities to build skills in four key areas: driver distraction, speed/space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.
Ford DSFL also is teaming up with state officials in Illinois to award high school teams that have created winning safety education campaigns the opportunity to learn new skills from professional drivers on a specially equipped course that lets them experience the worst the road has to offer, within a controlled and safe environment.
“Driving is a privilege, not a right, and parents need to set certain limits to ensure their teens stay safe,” added Barbara Harsha, GHSA executive director. “We recommend that parents talk with their teen drivers and together establish rules, including limits for the number of passengers, nighttime driving limits and a commitment not to text and drive. Every state has graduated license requirements and it is critical, especially during this season, that teens and parents are aware of and committed to follow these provisions.”
Also this month, Ford DSFL will award $100,000 in grants to GHSA members to conduct teen driving initiatives incorporating the award-winning Ford DSFL program. Highway safety agencies in Minnesota, New York, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin each will receive $20,000.
• Minnesota – The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety will conduct four, half-day skills events at the Minnesota Highway Safety & Research Center, using professional instructors and some of the Ford DSFL driving exercises. A session for parents will help them become more involved with their teens’ driving education.
• New York – The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee will incentivize high schools, community organizations, police agencies and other safety partners to conduct teen safe driving campaigns related to restraint use. Tools such as teen-focused prizes and web-based curricula also will help spread awareness of issues surrounding teen driving.
• Utah – The Utah Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office will create electronic materials and videos for the Highway Patrol’s Teen Driving Challenge, for teens to share with their friends and family. The funding also will help to create a tool kit for teen outreach and to enhance driver education instructors’ teaching skills.
• Virginia – The Virginia State Highway Safety Office, in partnership with Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety and the Virginia Beach Police Department, will offer a Safe Driving Day for up to 500 students at Virginia Beach schools. The event will include courses on distracted and impaired driving, seat belt convincer and simulators.
• Wisconsin – The Wisconsin DOT Bureau of Traffic Safety will partner with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to create a teen safe driving event that includes the PEERS driving simulator, to demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving. The program will utilize Ford DSFL web resources and curriculum.
Developed with the Governors Highway Safety Association, Ford Driving Skills for Life is recognized as the nation’s most comprehensive driving skills program, with free professional driver instruction, state grants, free materials for parents and educators and a Web-based curriculum that includes “The Academy” on www.drivingskillsforlife.com
. Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) has trained more than 500,000 new drivers through free online and professional hands-on driver instruction.