FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2014
Contact: Kara Macek, 202-789-0942, x140
States Receive Teen Driving Grants to Address Risky Behaviors
Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, and North Dakota Selected
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds in the U.S. To help combat this problem, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announced today that six of its member State Highway Safety Offices have been awarded $100,000 in grants from Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL). Elements of the award-wining teen driving program, developed collaboratively by Ford Motor Company Fund and GHSA, will be incorporated into initiatives implemented by the highway safety offices in Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, and North Dakota.
GHSA invited its members to apply for the grant, which provides up to $20,000 in seed money for teen-driving related activities. GHSA and Ford DSFL representatives reviewed the applications and selected the following state initiatives for funding:
- The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) will conduct a public service announcement (PSA) contest to educate teens about the dangers of distracted driving. High school media communications classes will be invited to create video PSAs that resonate with teens. GOHS will post entries on its website and invite the public to vote for their favorite. A panel of safety and media experts will judge the top ten vote getters, and first, second, and third place winners will be announced at Ford DSFL events to be held in Phoenix and Tucson in November. The winning schools will receive communications equipment, and their PSAs will be distributed to media outlets and posted on the GOHS website.
- The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) will host a Ford DSFL “Ride and Drive” event for teens at the Fort Riley Army Base. In 2013, 44 teens were killed on Kansas roadways, with the top contributing factors being driver inattention, failure to yield, unsafe speed, and impairment. Drivers will provide in-vehicle coaching to help teens develop their skills. Interactive learning stations addressing impaired driving and the importance of seat belt use will be included in the day-long event.
- The Nebraska Office of Highway Safety will host three, one-day hands-on driving events this September in Lincoln, Omaha/Blair and at the Safety Center Driving Range in Kearney. Recognizing that teens make up only 6 percent of the state’s driving population but account for 22 percent of all reported crashes, the event will help teens become skilled and responsible drivers. Participants will work one-on-one with certified driving instructors. A seat belt “convincer” will show teens the lifesaving value of seat belts.
- The New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) will partner with the Sachem School District, one of the largest in Suffolk County, to host a battle of the belts competition for its two high schools. More than one-third of the unrestrained front seat occupants killed or injured in the County in 2010-2012 were 16 to 24 years of age. Battle of the belts is a fast-moving competition where teams see who can buckle up the fastest. Teams will compete for the “Buckle Up Cup” at a community awareness event. Other activities will be conducted during the event to educate attendees about seat belt use and the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. GTSC will use a portion of its grant funds for ongoing development of a standardized driver education curriculum for use by all New York schools.
- The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program will bring the Ford DSFL program to the annual Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) conference in Raleigh. More than 300 high school peer-leaders and their advisors will take part in an exercise to learn about the dangers of distracted driving and share their experiences with teens and adults in communities across the state. SADD members will also take turns driving a golf cart to simulate driving while impaired. The teens will collect wristbands imprinted with safety messages as they rotate through the activities and educational sessions.
- The North Dakota Department of Transportation previously hosted three highly successful Ford DSFL events in cities around the state and will add Bismarck to that list this fall. With teens accounting for 18 percent of fatal crashes in the state over the past decade, helping novice drivers recognize the risks and responsibilities that come with driving is essential. Building on past events, this latest iteration will give teens the opportunity to receive behind-the-wheel professional instruction and try their hand at a number of activity stations. Teens will learn about the importance of regular vehicle maintenance and staying out of a truck’s blind spot.
Since its creation in 2003, Ford DSFL has partnered with nearly every GHSA member state on a wide variety of teen driving programs and activities. “Providing learning opportunities that are not only instructive, but also engaging is more likely to compel teens to become safe, responsible drivers,” said GHSA Chairman Kendell Poole. “We thank the Ford Driving Skills for Life team for continuing to partner with the states on this important effort.”
In addition to the state grants, summer and fall Ford DSFL teen driver training events will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; Kansas City; Louisville, Kentucky; Charleston, West Virginia; and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. More information is available at www.drivingskillsforlife.com.
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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, enhance program management and promote best practices. 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. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHSAhq or follow us on Twitter at @GHSAHQ.