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Driving Skills for Life News Release

March 12, 2007

Contacts: Dan Jarvis
Safety Public Affairs
Ford Motor Company
Bill Jamieson
Marketing & Communications
Jonathan Adkins
Governors Highway
Safety Association

Ford Motor Company Fund, Governors Highway Safety Association Put Focus on Central Illinois for Operation Teen Safe Driving

TAZEWELL COUNTY, Ill.—Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), responding to 15 teen traffic fatalities in just over a year in the central Illinois community of Tazewell County, are bringing the Driving Skills for Life program to the area in a program called Operation Teen Safe Driving.

The program, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation, begins Friday, March 15, and continues through Tuesday, May 15. It will be climaxed shortly afterward by a two-day driving event for more than 300 teens on dates and at a site to be announced.

“Illinois is thrilled to have Ford and its teen driving program partner with us in improving the skills of teen drivers,” said Michael R. Stout, director, Division of Traffic Safety, Illinois Department of Transportation, and the state’s GHSA leader. “We're convinced this proven program will result in fewer teen crashes and thank Ford and GHSA for their assistance.”

The program combines fun with serious reflection on safety as seven Tazewell County high schools will compete to determine which can create and execute the most professional and effective teen safe driving awareness and training campaign, using the Driving Skills for Life curriculum and other resources. The competition fosters creativity and teamwork, while providing real-life work experience to all involved.

Competing high schools are Pekin Community High, Washington Community High, East Peoria Community High, Deer Creek-Mackinaw High, Tremont High, Delavan High and Morton High. One team from each school will develop a written campaign plan, including a program element implementation timeline and media plan; give their campaign a name and a slogan; create a comprehensive safe-driving awareness program; work with community groups and individuals to spread the message, and drive traffic to the interactive Web site,

The winning school receives $5,000, and each student on the winning team is awarded a $500 U.S. Savings Bond. The second-place school receives $3,000, and third place is awarded $1,500, with the remaining schools each receiving $1,000. An adult working with each team receives $1,000 for his or her school.

“We share the concern of many in Tazewell County about the alarming number of teen traffic deaths, and we hope this program will increase awareness of the key elements to safe driving,” said Jim Graham, community relations manager of Ford Motor Company Fund. “This program will challenge teens, and it also will provide them with a lot of fun and camaraderie as they create their various plans.”

Added Christopher J. Murphy, chairman of GHSA: “This initiative is very important in our efforts to continue spreading the Driving Skills for Life message in local communities and nationally. It's the first time we have conducted such a broad, county-wide effort. While it’s certain to generate a lot of interest among the students, the most important results are that teens improve their driving skills and that we save lives.”

Judging the entries will be Ford Fund and GHSA staff members, a team of professional driving instructors and Tazewell County officials. Winners will be announced at the Driving Skills for Life “ride-and-drive” in May. Teens from each competing school will join teens from other area schools to hone their skills in specially equipped vehicles on challenging driving courses under the supervision of a team of professional instructors.  The focus will be on improving skills that are factors in 60 percent of teen vehicles crashes: Hazard Recognition, Vehicle Handling, Speed Management and Space Management.

Vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teenagers in America, claiming the lives of nearly 7,000 teens annually, including 179 in Illinois in 2005, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Developed in 2003 by Ford Motor Company Fund – the philanthropic arm of Ford – the GHSA and a panel of safety experts, Driving Skills for Life aims to help newly licensed drivers develop skills necessary for safe driving beyond what they learn in driver education programs. The educational materials complement state graduated licensing laws by allowing parents or guardians to take an active role as their teens learn the rules of the road. More than 9.5 million people participated in 2006 on the Web site, and over 1,000 teens took part last year in DSFL driving events. This unique program has been hailed by community, law enforcement and high school leaders and parents throughout the nation.

The program provides effective learning tools, including the comprehensive Web site that rewards students for taking the initiative to learn safe driving techniques. Several new learning modules are being introduced in 2007, including a car-care module designed to assist teens who encounter vehicle problems on the road. In addition, educator materials are available at no charge in both English and Spanish, allowing instruction of the program in school or community settings.

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Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services is committed to creating opportunities that promote corporate citizenship, philanthropy, volunteerism and cultural diversity for those who live in the communities where Ford does business. Established in 1949 and made possible by Ford Motor Company profits, Ford Motor Company Fund supports initiatives and institutions that foster innovative education, auto-related safety, and American heritage and legacy. National programs include Ford Partnership for Advanced Studies, which provides high school students with academically rigorous 21st century learning experiences, and Driving Skills for Life, a teen-focused auto safety initiative. The Ford Volunteer Corps, established in 2005, continues Ford's legacy of caring worldwide. Through the Volunteer Corps, salaried employees, union members, retirees and their families participate in a wide range of volunteer projects in their communities. For more information on programs made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, visit

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy and enhance program management. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit