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New Program Promises "Driving Skills for Life"

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Teaching teens to drive is an essential part of life -- but teaching them how to drive safely is even more critical. This spring, Ford is playing up its involvement in an online and on-site teen driver-training course that seeks to keep more young drivers alive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 5,658 teen deaths from vehicle crashes in 2006. To stem the number one killer of American teens, the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association established a program called Driving Skills for Life in 2003.

Driving Skills for Life helps young drivers (and regular drivers, too) in four areas that are a factor in over 60 percent of teen crashes: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management. The program, unlike others, is Web-based, enabling teens to receive their training online. On the site, parents also have the option to access tips for their young drivers, and teachers can download lessons for classroom instruction. All downloadable material is free and available in both English and Spanish.

Driving Skills for Life is not only an instructional course. The program also reaches teens through grants given to states to help promote safe driving. Each year different states receive the grant; this year’s beneficiaries are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and the U.S. territories of the Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands. These grants help pay for hands-on programs for the students and DVDs that teach safe driving as well.

The program also stages driving events to give inexperienced drivers more skills. Students have the availability to drive specially-equipped vehicles like skid cars, and learn the four key skills on challenging road courses. Highly skilled race car drivers are used as personal instructors and assist anywhere between 300 and 700 students in a two- or three-day event.

This year’s driving events will take place in Dearborn, Mich.; Nashville; and Peoria, Ill. Additional locations and dates are to be determined. So if you and your inexperienced driver can't make those events, take a look at the Driving Skills for Life Web site for online lessons and for more information.
 
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