State Laws & FundingNewsMeetingsIssuesPublicationsResources & ProgramsAbout UsMembers Only

Calendar Icon Highway Safety Calendar

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign Up for GHSA News

Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Summer 2010 Download Newsletter pdf
[2.7 MB, 12 pgs.]

Summer 2010 | Vol. 12 | No. 4

<< Table of Contents         << Previous Article         Next Article >>

Partnership to Save Teen Lives

By Jim Graham

Jim Graham, Manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life Program

Since 2003, Ford Motor Company Fund has partnered with GHSA in an effort to save teen lives. This partnership has been very rewarding for the entire Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL) team. Many great relationships have been built over the years, and, most importantly, we have implemented programs that have helped to save lives across the country. We truly appreciate this successful partnership, and look forward to the exciting future of safety together.

Ford DSFL is fully funded by Ford Motor Company through our foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. Like many other safety agencies, we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. There is no charge to anyone for using our program.

Like many of you, I personally know how terrifying it can be having a teen driver in the family. I have a young daughter who completed her driving certification, and Ford DSFL was an incredible resource for additional training. Unfortunately, over 6,000 times a year a parent is notified that a crash has taken the life of their teen. This sad statistic has fueled our goal to provide life saving advanced driving skills to the teens across the country.

Ford DSFL was created based on research that found that more than 60 percent of teen crashes stem from inexperience. We focus on four key elements to combat this: speed management, space management, hazard recognition and vehicle handling. Students, parents, and educators can access this information in a variety of ways, beginning with the website.

Our award winning website has been approved by major safety agencies and provides invaluable information. The Ford DSFL learning modules—”The Academy”—is the core of the site, but there also are many other training resources, such as car care tips, a large number of one minute safety videos, training resources for parents and educators, and more. You can even load “The Academy” onto your existing site through a free widget that ensures users will stay on your website to access the comprehensive training.

Our hands-on events, Ford DSFL Ride and Drives, are second-to-none. We conduct two-day events with professional drivers who personally teach students and parents proper driving techniques and advanced driving skills. In many cases, we work with schools prior to the hands-on course so that the learning can be cascaded throughout the school.

We also provide mini-grants to states to conduct their own programs. Realizing it is difficult to reach the entire country, we award grants so that a state can customize a program to its needs. And of course, we always welcome the opportunity to speak at state conferences or any other events.

So does Ford DSFL make a difference? Absolutely! One example of success is the State of Illinois “Operation Teen Safe Driving Program.” This statewide program with the Illinois Department of Transportation and The Allstate Foundation has been ongoing for three years, and so far teen fatalities have declined by 49 percent. In the county that initiated this program because it had lost 15 teens in 15 months, we have not had one fatality since the project started. We are confident Ford DSFL has contributed greatly in this reduction.

The State Highway Safety Office (SHSO) role in this partnership is critical. SHSOs are the best advocate of a state’s needs and are hard at work tackling these issues daily. We are responsive to the state’s needs, and are happy to work on tailoring a program that works best. Through sharing resources, we can keep the cost of programming down and reach out to more areas. We are proud to work with the states, and our combined names lend credibility to work with schools, community groups and other organizations.

I encourage all of you to visit our website in addition to visiting our display at the upcoming GHSA conference. Together we can make a difference.