FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2007
Safety Public Affairs
Ford Motor Company
Marketing & Communications
Driving Skills for Life Revs Up Operation Teen Safe Driving With "Ride-and-Drive" Event, Contest & Awards in Illinois
PEORIA, 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 continuing to bring the national Driving Skills for Life program to the area in a comprehensive initiative called Operation Teen Safe Driving.
The program, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Transportation, began March 15 and climaxes with a hands-on "ride-and-drive" event for approximately 360 teens Tuesday through Thursday, May 8-10, at Pekin Municipal Airport. In addition, Ford Motor Company Fund and GHSA will present awards to local high schools that produced the most professional and effective teen safe-driving awareness and training campaign, using the Driving Skills for Life curriculum and other resources.
"Illinois has been grateful and thrilled to have Ford and GHSA 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 program will result in fewer teen crashes. Furthermore, it's the type of program that makes it enjoyable to learn these important skills."
During the May 8-10 ride-and-drive, students from seven area high schools will hone their driving skills on challenging road 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. Morning sessions for groups of 60 begin at 8:30 a.m. and run to 12:30 p.m., and afternoon sessions are from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The event will be held rain or shine.
The seven participating high schools in the free event are Morton High School and East Peoria High, Delavan High, Tremont High, Deer Creek-Mackinaw High, Pekin Community High and Washington Community High (May 10). Those schools also competed in the safe-driving awareness and training campaign. Beginning in March, a team from each school developed a written campaign plan, including a program element implementation timeline and media plan, gave their campaign a name and a slogan, created a comprehensive safe-driving awareness program, worked with community groups and individuals to spread the message, and drove traffic to the interactive Web site, www.drivingskillsforlife.com.
Representatives from Ford Motor Company Fund, GHSA and local and state government are judging the contest, and winners will be announced at a 10:30 a.m., news conference Tuesday, May 8, during the ride-and-drive at the airport. 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.
"This program has been very challenging to the teens as they have created their various campaign plans, and the ride-and-drive certainly will enhance their experience," said Jim Graham, community relations manager of Ford Motor Company Fund. "The bottom line is that we hope this particular program and event improves teen safety in Tazewell County and nearby communities."
Added Christopher J. Murphy, chairman of GHSA: "This is the first time we have conducted such a broad, county-wide program, and we're delighted with the interest it has generated in the schools. Grassroots programs such as this are very important in our efforts to spread the Driving Skills for Life message and save teen lives."
Also supporting the event is Westfield Insurance, whose president, Roger McManus, said: "Safe driving is everyone's responsibility. We see a growing need for collaboration between parents, law enforcement, advocacy organizations and corporate partners. We're proud to be part of this diverse program for young drivers."
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 have been introduced in 2007, including a car-care module designed to assist teens encountering vehicle problems on the road. In addition, educator materials are available at no charge in English and Spanish, allowing instruction of the program in school or community settings.
# # #
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 www.ford.com.
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 www.ghsa.org.