Better and therefore safer young drivers is the mission of two programs, one being undertaken by Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association, and the other by the Hagerty Drivers Foundation.
Ford and the GHSA have announced grants to create and implement programs to help combat teen speeding in six states — Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New York, Tennessee and Utah. As part of the effort, Ford’s Driving Skills for Life training clinics will return with an 8-city tour starting August 7-8 in Anaheim, California. Locations to follow include Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Diego.
There is no charge for the clinics.
“Despite fewer vehicles on the road during the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic crash fatalities are estimated to have reached a 13-year high in 2020, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System,” Ford and the Governors group reported.
“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 percent of teen driver and passenger fatalities involved speeding. By comparison, 30 percent of fatalities involving drivers and passengers ages 20+ were speeding-related.”
“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.”
The Ford Driving Skills for Life program is open to newly licensed drivers or teens with a valid learner’s permit.
“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,” Ford and the GHSA noted. “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.”
Begun 18 years ago, the driving skills program pairs young drivers with professional driving instructors.
“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,” according to the news release.
To date, more than 1.25 million young drivers have gone through the program.
While there is no charge for the Ford young drivers’ program, that’s not the case with most driver-training instructional classes. To encourage participation, the Hagerty Drivers Foundation offers grants of up to $500 to cover the cost of drivers’ education.
The application process includes writing a 300-word essay or submitting a one-minute video answering the question, “Why are you excited to drive?”