FAIRFAX, Virginia, October 3, 2013 – (October 4, 2013) According to data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office, 34 Virginia teens died behind the wheel of a car in 2012. While Virginia has seen a reduction in teen driving fatalities from 75 in 2006, more attention is needed to combat this number one killer of teens in the United States.
Representatives from the Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program which is managed by the Ford Motor Company Fund, Ford’s philanthropic arm, stopped by Inova Children’s Hospital on Wednesday to highlight with leadership and staff some of the main causes of car crashes involving teenagers, including inexperience and distracted driving. Those in attendance also got to hear personal stories from those that work in the trauma unit who regularly witness the outcomes of these types of crashes.
“The issue of inexperience with newly licensed drivers is serious, and we are proud to provide a step in the learning process to help teens gain more experience with real-life scenarios, as well as educate parents on some best practices that will help their teens become better drivers,” said Jim Graham, manager of Ford’s Driving Skills for Life program. “Ford Motor Company Fund is very pleased to bring our award-winning safe driving hands-on training program to Virginia teens, parents and educators.”
Ford DSFL representatives were in Northern Virginia this week promoting their free Driving Skills for Life program that is coming to the region next weekend. The free program consists of three days of hands-on training October 11, 12, and 13 at Dulles International Airport’s Purple Lot. Parents can sign their teens up for one of these sessions at www.drivingskillsforlife.com.
“I get to see first-hand the tragic consequences of many of the causes of car crashes involving teen drivers, including their inexperience behind-the-wheel, distracted driving or driving while impaired. Many of these accidents can be avoided if teens had more experience or changed their driving habits. I am so glad to see Ford taking concrete steps to address these problems and I hope parents also take note since their driving habits influence those of their children,” said Dr. Brendan McCracken, head of pediatric trauma at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus.
For the 10th year, Ford Motor Company Fund and the GHSA are bringing Ford DSFL directly to young drivers and their parents across the country through a variety of activities. Ford DSFL is the most comprehensive teen safe driving program in the United States and has trained more than 550,000 new drivers around the globe through online and hands-on professional driver instruction.
“I believe we’ve been able to influence thousands of teens through this program over the years. Unfortunately, too many parents still get that dreaded call that their child has been in a car crash, sometimes fatal. So what we continue to do is put these teens in real-life controlled situations and teach them how to react. We can speak at them all we want, but we feel that adding the hands-on component greatly improves the chances they’ll be able to make better decisions behind-the-wheel in their everyday lives,” added Mike Speck, former professional race car driver and lead Instructor with Ford Driving Skills for Life.
A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that teen driver fatalities are on the rise among 16 and 17-year-old drivers nationwide. Also, analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) traffic data shows that in 2011 there were approximately 2,300 traffic fatalities among those ages 15 to 19.
“To help prevent the tragedy of traffic fatalities involving teenagers, we are happy to work with programs like Ford Driving Skills for Life,” said John Saunders, Director of the Virginia Highway Safety Office and Vice Chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “Educational efforts can be part of a broad effort to save lives, by teaching useful skills to these inexperienced drivers.”
The program, designed by a panel of safety experts, will focus on building the skills of young drivers in several key areas. The program will demonstrate the dangerous effects of distractions in the car like texting while driving or carrying too many passengers. Teens will also learn how to steer a car safely out of a slide. The exercises will put students in real-world driving scenarios in a controlled environment so they are equipped with knowledge that could save their life in the future.
Research conducted for the Ford DSFL program also shows that teens tend to follow in their parents’ footsteps when it comes to driving habits. Parents can help address the problem simply by setting a good example behind the wheel. These good habits include everything from not speeding and buckling up, to teaching their children how to scan for potential hazards while driving. Parents are invited to attend one of the hands-on training sessions with their teen October 11, 12 or 13.
Reducing the number of traffic fatalities and injuries remains the key mission for Ford DSFL, which bridges the experience gap for new drivers with specialized training. More information can be found online at www.DrivingSkillsforLife.com.
# # #
About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services
Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. For more than 60 years, Ford Motor Company Fund has operated with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. The award-winning Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches new drivers through a variety of hands-on and interactive methods. Innovation in education is encouraged through national programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. Through the Ford Volunteer Corps, more than 25,000 Ford employees and dealers work on projects each year that better their communities in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit www.community.ford.com.
About the Governors Highway 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, 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.