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Driving Skills for Life News Release

November 12, 2007

Contacts: Sanda Pecina
Aker Partners
Jim Graham
Ford Motor Company Fund & Community Services

Illinois Hits the Road with Teen Safe Driving Program

Proven Partnership with Ford-Funded Driving Skills for Life Triggers Statewide Campaign to Help Save Teen Lives

DETROIT, Mich.—On Nov. 13-14, Ford Motor Company representatives, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Milton R. Sees, Secretary of State Jesse White and other state officials will travel across Illinois unveiling the Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program, Operation Teen Safe Driving, an innovative state-wide teen driving safety awareness program.

The Operation Teen Safe Driving program is modeled after the successful Ford Driving Skills for Life pilot program launched in Tazewell County, IL in early 2007 that halted an epidemic of 15 local teen fatalities that occurred within a fifteen month period. The program challenges high schools to compete against each other to develop the most comprehensive and creative safe driving community campaign. All of the state’s 778 public and private high schools are invited to apply for grants of $1,000 to participate in the Operation Teen Safe Driving campaign.

"The Ford Driving Skills for Life program is delighted to partner with the State of Illinois in this important teen safety initiative because it improves safety for vehicle drivers and occupants of all ages" said Sue Cischke, senior vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company. "This innovative approach could set the standard for our involvement in other states across the country in support of our ongoing commitment to safety."

“There hasn't been a single new teen road fatality in Tazewell County since the program wrapped up,” said Michael R. Stout, director of public safety, Illinois Department of Transportation. “This type of resounding success—with the financial backing, hands-on driving training, and education provided by DSFL through its professional drivers and educational Web site—is what we hope to replicate statewide.”

Illinois schools have already received applications for the $1,000 grants to conduct their own community-wide campaigns, which will also focus on the role of drugs and alcohol; safety belts; speed; and distractions in fatal traffic accidents. The applications are due in mid-December and schools that have been selected will be notified by January 4. Winning high schools will be invited to participate in one of three sponsored Ford Driving Skills for Life hands on driving events across the state of Illinois in May.

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Ford Driving Skills for Life ( Developed in 2003 by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Ford Motor Company Fund and a panel of safety experts, the program aims to assist newly licensed drivers develop skills necessary for safe driving beyond what they learn in standard driver education programs. The educational materials complement state graduated licensing laws by allowing parents or guardians to take an active role as their teen learns the rules of the road and help young drivers improve their skills in four key areas (hazard recognition; vehicle handling; space management; speed management.) Teacher and educator materials are available online at no charge in both 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

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