Memorial Day weekend kicks off the beginning of summer days of fun, but
according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
(NHTSA), it also kicks off the deadliest driving season of the year.
On average, 269 more people die in traffic fatalities each month during the summer than in any other season of the year. Of the 25 deadliest days on American roads over the past five years, 20 of them fell during the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Even more troubling is the fact that motor vehicle crashes are now the leading cause of death for 15-to-20-year-olds in America, with more than 7,000 teens killed annually in vehicle accidents. NHTSA also reports that one in five 16-year-old drivers are involved in collisions during their first year of driving.
To help minimize the number of accidents involving teens, Ford Motor Company is working to help teens become better drivers by turning to the Web. Ford is now offering safe driving tips in video format on popular Web sites like www.youtube.com, www.yahoo.com, in addition to Ford's interactive teen safe driving Web site, www.drivingskillsforlife.com. New tips will be posted each week through early June. The site is a very cool place for teens and parents to go together to improve their driving and teaching skills offering pages to assist parents with coaching as well as tips for beginning drivers.
Right now five videos are available on the Driving Skills for Life video player, and a dozen Ford videos are available at You Tube.
The short video spots provide a variety of driving tips for teens and
adults delivered by professional instructors from Ford's Driving Skills
for Life program. The videos show teens what to do if passenger-side
wheels leave the roadway, how to recover in a skid, how to sit properly
for safe driving, how to anticipate danger, and when it's important to
slow down. They're short and informative, and presented in a way that
will keep teens interested in their contents.
"We're turning to the Web because that's where teens live, and where they get much of their information," said Sue Cischke, senior vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company. "We want the video spots to get teens thinking about safe driving, and we think the tips can be valuable for adults, as well."
Cischke said the best way for teens to learn safe driving is to get behind the wheel with an experienced driver - a driving instructor or parent - who can share their knowledge first hand.
"The best thing both teens and adults can do to remain safe is to buckle up, and avoid alcohol while driving. Research into driving related injuries and fatalities clearly demonstrates that," Cischke said. "We're proud that our safe driving program has helped many teens return home safely, and we want to spread our safe driving message any way we can." The tips pages for parents are very useful in guiding them to be helpful mentors to their young drivers.
Research provided by NHTSA indicates that one of the biggest reasons for high teen driver and passenger fatalities is low safety belt use among teens. More than 60 percent of occupants killed in vehicles driven by teens were not wearing safety belts. When worn correctly, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent - and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and mini-vans. Yet nearly one in five Americans still fail to regularly wear their safety belts. What's up with that?
Ford's Driving Skills for Life program emphasizes belt use and helps young drivers improve their skills in four key areas that are critical factors in more than 60 percent of teen vehicle crashes: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management. Ford will continue to hold several hands-on driving safety events across the United States, and provide free educational materials to high schools around the country.
Established in 2003 by Ford Motor Company and the Governors Highway Safety Association, Driving Skills for Life provides effective learning tools, including the comprehensive interactive Web site that rewards students for taking the initiative to learn safe driving techniques. In addition, educator materials are available at no charge in both English and Spanish, allowing instruction of the program in school or community settings. Driving Skills for Life has staged hands-on driving events that have reached nearly 6,000 students. The program also combines learning materials for use by students, parents, educators, and instructors for use at home, in schools and community settings.
With summer quickly approaching, now is the time to check out the www.drivingskillsforlife.com website and help your teen become a better driver during this dangerous driving season.
By Brandy Schaffels