DEARBORN – Five lucky teens have won a national Ford song contest that involved 520,000 public votes and final judging from Shawn Wilson, president of Usher's New Look Foundation. The public selected the five finalists on www.drivingskillsforlife.com from among videos by teen musicians performing original songs, and Wilson chose the first, second and third-place winners. Distracted driving is the theme for the 2011 Ford Driving Skills for Life “Belt It Out” contest.
The winning musical group -- from Germantown High School in the Memphis area -- has five members: Nathan Waters, Eric Rulerman, Elijah Berry, all 18, and Jared Dover and Sophia Frantz, both 17. Each won a $5,000 U.S. savings bonds and a free trip to Usher's New Look Foundation World Leadership Conference. They also are invited to join Usher and John Rich, country music star and Celebrity Apprentice, in a conference workshop on July 20 on how music can create awareness and inspire social change.
A limousine will pick up the teens early Wednesday morning for the trip to Usher’s New Look Foundation World Leadership Conference in Atlanta and they will return home on Thursday.
Earlier this year Ford Motor Company Fund invested another $1 million to expand Ford's fight against the No. 1 killer of American teens – vehicle crashes. Working with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Ford is bringing its free driving skills clinic this year to high schools in 15 states.
“Ford is taking a leadership role in educating teens about safe driving," said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Ford is passionate about helping young drivers, which helps keep the roads safer for all of us. We are proud to partner with Usher’s New Look Foundation on the “Belt It Out” contest.”
More than 3,000 teens, ages 15-19, are killed on American roads each year, according to government statistics.
"Usher's New Look Foundation is committed to engaging our youth in programs that support their future success," said Shawn Wilson, president, Usher's New Look Foundation. "We are proud to partner with Ford Driving Skills for Life once again to help keep teens safer on the roads."
The second place winner in the Belt It Out contest - Kori Caswell, 17, from Hannibal (Mo.) High School - won a $3,000 savings bond. Third place winners Colby Benson and Rachel Look --both 16-year-olds from Hawaii -- each won a $1,000 saving bond. The three winning videos will be posted on www.drivingskillsforlife.com.
Ford developed Ford Driving Skills for Life in 2003 in partnership with GHSA, delivering one of the nation’s most comprehensive teen driver safety programs. Ford DSFL builds young drivers’ skills in four key areas: driver distraction, speed and space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition. These four areas are contributors to more than 60 percent of teen crashes.
In addition to free hands-on driving clinics at high schools and community events, the program offers learning tools on its interactive website (www.drivingskillsforlife.com), including educational modules and car care and driving tip videos. Free educator packets also are available.