DEARBORN – As teens head back to school, Ford is traveling to new territory to reach new drivers with potentially life-saving skills through the Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program. The tour opens in Fairbanks, Alaska, Sept. 6, with stops in Anchorage and Wasilla, Alaska; then travels to Vancouver, British Columbia; Coeur D’Alene, Idaho; and then to Helena, Missoula and Bozeman, Mont.
Ford also is bringing its program to teen drivers in Hollywood at Paramount Studios on Sept. 15 for the sixth annual Variety Power of Youth event. Several hundred California teens will have the opportunity to practice with professional drivers in a hands-on course focused on distracted driving.
More than 3,000 teens ages 15-19 are killed each year on American roads, making traffic fatalities the leading cause of death of American teens, according to government statistics. As the most comprehensive driving skills program in the U.S., Ford DSFL is designed to make a difference with these preventable tragedies.
Now in its ninth year, Ford DSFL is a partnership between Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The program includes free professional driver instruction, a Web-based curriculum, free educational materials, state grants and statewide education partnerships.
This fall’s high school tour is expected to reach 15,000 teen drivers, many living in rural areas where teen drivers face nearly twice the risk of their urban counterparts, according to government statistics.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 1,251 drivers ages 15-20 in rural areas died in traffic crashes in 2010, compared to 688 young adult drivers in urban areas.
Data from 2004 to 2008 reported by the Centers for Disease Control indicate the urban states of New York and New Jersey have the lowest annualized fatality rate (9.7 percent) for teen drivers aged 16 and 17, compared to rural states such as Montana with 59.6 percent and Idaho with 32.7 percent per 100,000.
In addition to driving programs in Hollywood and the Pacific Northwest, Ford DSFL will hold community driving clinics in Phoenix and Tucson in early December. DSFL community hands-on driving clinics build young drivers’ skills in four key areas: driver distraction, speed/space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.
“Our aim with Ford Driving Skills for Life is to leave a lasting impression on teens who may not understand the risks associated with driving,” 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 skill sets that can make them safer drivers.”
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.