DEARBORN – For the 10th year new drivers around the world will get an opportunity to improve their skills through the Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program. Traffic fatalities are the leading killer of American teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with about 2,700 drivers ages 16-19 killed annually on American roads.
In 2013 Ford DSFL will reach about 200 high schools with its safe driving materials, thanks to Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). GHSA calls Ford Driving Skills for Life the nation’s most comprehensive teen safe driving program, with hands-on community driving events, Web-based learning, government grants, fun contests and free educational materials for parents and teachers. GHSA announced this week that the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths in passenger vehicles increased by 19 percent for the first six months of 2012, based on preliminary data.
A free hands-on driving clinic for 600 teen drivers in the Los Angeles area will be offered on March 1–3, culminating two weeks of activities as the 2013 Ford DSFL high school tour gets underway.
This year’s plans include visits to about 40 high schools to reach about 40,000 teen drivers, which is almost double the number of students reached during last year’s high school tour. In addition to California, Ford DSFL will visit high schools in Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia and Arizona with an array of activities focused on distracted driving and other common driving challenges faced by teen drivers. In each area, teens will be invited to community hands-on driving clinics utilizing specially equipped vehicles. The clinics offer professional drivers and multifaceted activities that build skills in four key areas: driver distraction, speed/space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.
“Inexperience is the leading cause of crashes in young drivers, and Ford Driving Skills for Life includes a variety of engaging and targeted methods to deliver key skill sets that boost young drivers’ confidence and knowledge,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “Our mission is to make the roads safer for everyone.”
“Ford’s commitment to partnering with states on teen driver education remains unprecedented,” said GHSA Chairman Kendell Poole. “With state and federal highway safety funding continuing to be limited, Ford’s support is increasingly critical.”
Ford DSFL is continuing its partnerships with the Illinois Department of Transportation and Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning to bring two innovative programs to schools. Now in its sixth year, Operation Teen Safe Driving has helped to reduce teen auto fatalities in Illinois by 48 percent through a competition for innovative teen-led safe driving campaigns at more than 105 high schools. The Strive 4 A Safer Drive program in Michigan is modeled after the Illinois program and will reach almost 40 high schools this year.
Outside of the U.S., Ford DSFL works to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and injuries by teaching safe driving skills to licensed drivers of all ages.
Ford DSFL is now in its sixth year in Asia with programs in mainland China, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and South Africa. About 13,500 drivers were trained last year and more than 63,000 people have been trained since the program began there.
Ford also is bringing DSFL to the Middle East in 2013. In partnership with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Road and Transport Authority, Ford DSFL will visit three universities with professional instructors who will demonstrate safe driving practices using specially equipped Ford vehicles.
The needs of drivers and the local driving environment are addressed during the training in each market. For example, in China DSFL added a segment on the use of child safety seats after a new regulation went into effect there, and sessions tailored for female drivers were conducted in several countries, including Thailand and Indonesia.
In Vietnam Ford DSFL launched a No Honking campaign to reduce the adverse effects on road safety of the prevalent and inappropriate use of vehicle horns. Ford DSFL in India and China launched a campaign inviting drivers to “pledge to drive safe,” and this campaign will expand into more countries in 2013.
In 2013 Ford DSFL is launching an enhanced version of the interactive Web-based training called “The Academy” on its website www.drivingskillsforlife.com – which will be redesigned during the first half of the year. Expanded use of social media and interactive Web-based tools also is under way in the Asia Pacific region. Other free materials are available upon request for students, educators, parents and community organizations.