Consequently, Ford Driving Skills for Life will take its informational and experiential education program to over 200 high schools in eight states, taking their message of safety to over 40,000 students.
According to the program, parents have more influence on teen driving than they may realize. It is one of the only areas of life where teens tend to listen to what parents say, and more importantly, they pay a lot of attention to what you do, creating an excellent opportunity to teach by example.
“By setting a good example behind the wheel, parents can increase the chances their children will adopt safe driving practices,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “While state laws and educational programs are critical, ultimately, parents are the most critical component to keeping their teen drivers safe.”
Ford’s tips for parents of teen drivers
• Engaging your kids – As teens near the age for a learner’s permit, parents should actively engage them about driving, instilling safe driving behaviors, providing practice time and educational opportunities, and establishing a clear policy of zero tolerance for unsafe actions.
• Click it or Ticket – It’s the law and just good sense to buckle up. If parents don’t wear their seat belts, why should they expect their kids to? In a crash, unsecured occupants have a much greater chance of being injured or killed than someone wearing a seat belt.
• Observe Speed Limits – Research shows that teens are more likely to exceed speed limits if they witness their parents doing so. Excessive speed is still alleged to be a factor in about one third of all traffic deaths nationally. It may help to explain 11-mph of the speed limit can get you a $160 fine – something no parent wants and perhaps should not pay. After all, we learn best from our own mistakes – as along as we survive them!
• Avoid Distractions – By setting a tough no distractions rule for their teens and modeling this same behavior, parents send the message that distracted driving is unsafe and that they really do care.
• Stay back – Teach kids the proper distance to keep between you and the vehicle in front of you in various types of driving. Though rarely fatal, rear end collisions are common and relatively preventable.
• Watch for hazards – Parents should teach their kids to be aware of what is ahead on the road well beyond the car in front of them as well as being aware of their flanks.
• Few if any passengers – So strong is the urge to socialize, young drivers can easily be distracted by a single passenger – leading to an exponential increase in the risk of a collision. Graduated driver’s license programs often restrict the number of passengers and parents should reinforce those restrictions.
• Never drink and drive – Parents should remind teens that drinking and driving kills, maims or incarcerates and will not be tolerated.
Ford Driving Skills for Life
In 2013, Ford DSFL will double the number of students it reaches with its hands on driving programs to 40,000 by visiting at least 40 high schools in Arizona, California, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia with activities focused on the common driving challenges teen drivers face. These include real-world driving situations in a controlled environment in specially equipped vehicles. The hands-on clinics offer professional drivers and activities that build skills in five key areas: driver distraction, speed management, space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.
Ford Driving Skills for Life’s outreach will include another 150 high schools with its safe driving materials, Web-based learning, partnerships with state highway safety agencies, fun contests and free educational materials for parents and teachers.