Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford, and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) are bringing four free Ford Driving Skills for Life hands-on training clinics to the Manheim Orlando (11801 W. Colonial Drive., Ocoee, FL) April 22-23, 2023.
Now in its 20th year, Ford Driving Skills for Life supports the goal of Vision Zero — to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries among all road users while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility. The program pairs newly licensed or permitted drivers with professional driving instructors for hands-on driving training in a safe, closed-course environment. Developed by Ford Fund, GHSA and a panel of safety experts, 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 free training clinics focus on necessary skills for safe driving, including pedestrian/cyclist education, and is being conducted in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation.
“At Ford Fund, we invest in programs that create safer conditions for all road users, including those without car-centric mobility journeys. We believe that everyone deserves access to reliable, safe and affordable mobility,” said Joe Provenzano, Mobility director with the Ford Motor Company Fund. “Our Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches safe driving practices to newly licensed teen drivers in the context of vulnerable road users like pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders. By training teen drivers, the program results in a safer journey for both the new drivers as well as those who share the road with them.”
Parents/guardians are encouraged to participate with their teen(s), given the significant role they play in shaping their child’s driving habits. Community groups that reach underserved teens are also encouraged to participate. Parents can register their teen(s) for a free training session by visiting drivingskillsforlife.com/training.
According to the CDC, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, and teens ages 16-19 are three times as likely as those ages 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. However, roadway safety is about more than just the driver and that’s underpinned by this alarming statistic:
- Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. GHSA estimates that 7,435 pedestrians were struck and killed in 2021 – the highest number in 40 years.
In Florida, Orange County ranks #1 for serious injuries and fatalities of teen drivers (according to FDOT data from 2016-2020). Additional driving statistics can be found on the current Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard.
“Safety of all users on the transportation systems are important to FDOT,” said Loreen Bobo, Safety Administrator for FDOT District Five. “Our newest drivers are learning the rules of the road, which is a lot of responsibility. Programs like this one help teach beyond just the rules of the road and show how to best handle unfamiliar situations ahead of when they might happen. At FDOT, we have a Target of Zero, which is Zero fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways. Let’s all do our part to get to Zero. Safety starts with YOU!”
GHSA and the Ford Driving Skills for Life team recommend that parents of teen drivers positively impact their teen driver’s safety by doing the following:
- Follow Your State’s Provisional Licensing Program, also known as Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), which phases in driving privileges as teens gain more experience. Research confirms the effectiveness of GDL laws in reducing fatalities involving teen drivers.
- Be a good role model. Practice safe driving yourself – your teen’s learning starts at home.
- Schedule regular driving practice with your teen, even after they’re licensed to drive without supervision. Teens whose parents actively monitor their driving are less likely to be involved in a crash and to engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, driving impaired or distracted, and not buckling up.
- Collaborate with your teen to create and enforce a parent-teen driving agreement (PTDA) that clearly states the rules and the consequences for violating them. Posting the PTDA in a location where everyone will see it, such as on the refrigerator or adjacent to the car keys, will help to reinforce its importance.
“Teen drivers are more likely than any other age group to be involved in a fatal crash,” said GHSA Senior Director of External Engagement Pam Shadel Fischer, a nationally recognized teen safe driving expert and co-author of Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving. “Through our 20-year partnership with Ford Driving Skills for Life, we are helping new drivers understand the risks associated with their inexperience and how to reduce them through skill-based training. We’re also reinforcing the critical role parents play in keeping not only their teen driver safe but everyone else on the road – other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and scooter riders.”
About Ford Motor Company Fund
As the global philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund focuses on providing access to essential services, education for the future of work and entrepreneurship opportunities for under-resourced and underrepresented communities. Ford Fund’s partnerships and programming are designed to be responsive to unique community needs, ensuring people have equitable opportunities to move forward. Harnessing Ford’s scale, resources and mobility expertise, Ford Fund drives meaningful impact through grantmaking, Ford Community Centers and employee volunteerism. For more information, visit fordfund.org or join us at @FordFund on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
About 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. Visit ghsa.org for more information or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Florida Department of Transportation
The Florida Department of Transportation’s mission is to provide a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity, and preserves the quality of the state’s environment and communities. The department is committed to building a transportation system that not only fits the current needs of Florida’s residents and visitors, but also enhances mobility throughout the state to accommodate its consistent and rapid growth. The unique nature of the Sunshine State and its year-round warm climate provides numerous opportunities to achieve the department’s mission through multiple transportation modes including highways/streets, air, rail, sea, spaceports, transit, and the ever-expanding deployment of bicycle & pedestrian facilities.