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Driving Skills for Life News Release

August 12, 2009

Contacts: Wes Sherwood
Ford Driving Skills for Life
Safety Communications
Rebecca Bunting
Ford Driving Skills for Life
Ford Motor Company Fund
Jim Graham
Ford Driving Skills for Life
Ford Motor Company Fund

Ford Driving Skills for Life to bring Free National Teen Driver Training Camp to Romeo, Michigan

Sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund and Governors Highway Safety Association

DEARBORN, Mich.—In an effort to reduce teen crashes and fatalities in Michigan, Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association are hosting a Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL) driving camp. This free, once in a lifetime driving experience is being held at the Ford Michigan Proving Ground in Romeo on August 13-14. Over four hundred teens and parents will be trained.

Students will receive hands-on advanced driver's training by some of the nation's top professional driving instructors. Participants will learn techniques in the four key skill areas: speed management, space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition. Experts have identified the lack of these skills to be the cause of approximately 60 percent of vehicle crashes for newly licensed drivers ages 16 to 19. Vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in America.

"We are looking forward to bringing the Ford Driving Skills for Life program back to Michigan," said Jim Graham, community relations manager of Ford Motor Company Fund. “The Ford DSFL program is designed to help teens and parents learn important lessons in road safety that are often not discovered until it is too late. Teen vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens across the nation, and we have unfortunately witnessed that reality in Michigan during the last few months. The Ford Motor Company Fund is committed to combating the alarming rate of teen crashes and fatalities.”

Ford Driving Skills for Life was created in 2003 in partnership with the Governors Highway Safety Association. It is one of the nation's most comprehensive teen driver safety programs. In addition to hands-on events such as the event being held in Romeo, it consists of learning tools such as an interactive Web site ( that includes a learning module, quizzes, car care videos, driving tip videos, interactive games and an enhanced eco-driving curriculum. Free educator packets are available for students and parents, as well as teachers and community programs. Additionally, individual programs can be created to meet the specific needs of communities and schools.

This is a tremendous opportunity being made available for these young drivers thanks to the Ford Fund and GHSA," stated Michael Prince, Director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. "In addition to the essential skills they will be trained in at this event, they will hopefully come away with a better understanding of the importance of mature and responsible decision-making while driving. It is an unfortunate fact that we are losing a lot of young drivers each year due to a lack of sound judgment and maturity while driving.

Community curbs tragedies through teaching

In 2009, Ford DSFL will conduct nine instructional events nationwide, including two extended summer camps. A notable success has been a campaign in rural Tazewell County, in central Illinois. During a 15-month period in 2004-2005, the Tazewell community was rocked by a sequence of teen driving deaths as 15 teenagers lost their lives in vehicle crashes.

In 2007, DSFL joined a community-based initiative – the Tazewell Teen Initiative – to help fight the problem. Together, they created a comprehensive program that included a community awareness-campaign contest among the county’s seven high schools, speaking appearances by professional drivers, eye-catching signage on school property, and educational materials. The program culminated with 300 students participating in intensive professional driving instruction.

Since then, there hasn't been a single new teen road fatality in Tazewell County.

“The program gave these teenagers the challenge, financial backing, driving skills and the confidence to make a difference and save lives. It also brought healing to a community still grieving over lives lost,” said Michael R. Stout, director of public safety, Illinois Department of Transportation. “We cannot put a monetary value on the skills the program taught to the community—skills that will last a lifetime.”

The state of Illinois was so pleased with the Tazewell results that it partnered with DSFL to take the program statewide in 2008. The state credits the program in part for reducing teen fatalities by more than 40 percent last year.

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Ford MyKey

Ford Motor Company is introducing an innovative new technology – called MyKey – designed to help parents encourage their teen-agers to drive safer and more fuel efficiently, and increase safety-belt usage.

Ford’s MyKey feature – which debuts this summer as standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus and will quickly become standard on many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models – allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume.  MyKey also encourages safety-belt usage – the No. 1 life-saving device in accidents – with a more insistent belt reminder chime and by muting the audio system until the driver and front-passenger buckle up.

About Ford Fund and Community Services:

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 operates. Established in 1949, and made possible by funding from Ford Motor Company, the 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 Ford 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, Ford employees and retirees participate in a wide range of volunteer projects in their communities. For more information on programs made possible by the Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, visit

About the Governors Highways Safety Association:

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

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