Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) are extending their 18-year commitment to improving teen driving skills by awarding grants totaling $135,000 to six State Highway Safety Offices and announcing the return of Ford Driving Skills for Life hands-on driver training clinics.
Vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teen drivers and data from GHSA and Ford Fund’s Teens & Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle report released earlier this year found that more than 2,000 teen vehicle occupant deaths occur each year. When looking at data from fatal motor vehicle crashes between 2015 and 2019, 43% of teen driver and passenger fatalities involved speeding. By comparison, 30% of fatalities involving drivers and passengers ages 20+ were speeding-related.
Additionally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, traffic deaths are estimated to have reached a 13-year high in 2020, despite a decline in driving during the COVID-19 pandemic. A NHTSA report estimates that last year, 38,680 people were killed on U.S roadways in 2020 – the highest number since 2007 and an increase of 7.2% from 2019. Speeding is often identified as a factor in fatal crashes.
State Highway Safety Offices in Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New York, Tennessee and Utah are receiving grants ranging from $18,000 to $25,000 to create and implement programs to help combat teen speeding.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, and speeding is often a significant factor,” said Jonathan Adkins, GHSA Executor Director. “We must remain steadfast in our commitment to combat traffic fatalities and equip teens with the skills they need to be safe drivers.”
Ford Fund and GHSA also are resuming their award-winning teen driver safety program – Ford Driving Skills for Life – following a 15-month pause in hands-on training due to COVID-19.
An eight-city tour of free, safe-driving clinics kicks off Aug. 7-8, 2021, in Anaheim, California, with additional stops planned in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Diego through the remainder of this year. Newly licensed drivers or teens who hold a valid learner’s permit can participate. One parent or guardian is encouraged to participate with their teen(s), given the significant role they play in shaping their child’s driving habits. Parents can register their teen(s) or sign up to be among the first to get notified of this free training opportunity in their area at drivingskillsforlife.com.
Now in its 18th year, Ford Driving Skills for Life pairs newly licensed drivers with professional driving instructors for next-level instruction. The program addresses issues and critical factors that influence crashes, including: vehicle handling; hazard recognition; speed and space management; distracted driving; and impaired driving. The hands-on training clinics focus on necessary skills for safe driving beyond what is learned in traditional driver education courses.
“Despite the pandemic and pause in our hands-on training for more than a year, the Driving Skills for Life team continued working to improve driving safety by offering virtual instructional activities and launching a new ‘Daily Drive’ podcast,” said Jim Graham, manager, Ford Motor Company Fund. “However, nothing can replace in-person, behind-the-wheel training, and we are looking forward to safely resuming our hands-on training clinics.”
Since 2003, Ford Fund has invested more than $60 million in its Ford Driving Skills for Life program and provided free, advanced driver education to more than 1.25 million newly licensed teen drivers in all 50 U.S. states and 46 countries worldwide. For more information and updates on tour locations as well as COVID-19 safety protocols, visit drivingskillsforlife.com.