Experienced drivers know a dangerous situation can develop at any time or any place. An icy road, a flooded street or a distracted driver can quickly turn a routine trip into an emergency.
Brooklyn Dippo learned that lesson first hand when she lost control of her car. Thankfully, she paid close attention during her Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) training session and managed to keep her cool by remembering what the Ford DSFL pros told her - look where you want the car to go.
“Continuing to drive out of it instead of just slamming on my brakes caused considerably more damage on the passenger side of my car, but I was safe and able to walk away after the accident,” said Dippo, Miss San Antonio 2013. “Knowing what could have happened if I didn't respond the way I did still scares me. The Ford DSFL program really does save lives and it just may have saved mine.”
Now in its 11th year, Ford DSFL was established in 2003 to help reduce traffic accidents - the No. 1 killer of teens in the United States. The program has provided hands-on training to more than 30,000 teens in nearly 100 U.S. cities across 39 states. Ford DSFL has reached another 500,000 people through its Academy online training courses.
“Our mission is to make the roads safer for everyone,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “We work closely with external partner agencies to make sure the training is fun, informative and – above all – effective.”
The next chapter in the Ford DSFL story is already underway in Europe, Asia and Africa. The program is established in more than a dozen countries from China, India and South Africa to the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Germany.
“Each region has different issues and different needs, and we tailor the program accordingly,” said Jim Graham, manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL). “In some countries, not all new drivers are teens. In others, the environment, landscape or increasing traffic volumes are the main concern. One common thread in all areas is inexperience.”
More than 100,000 drivers around the world have taken part in the free, hands-on Ford DSFL training with professional drivers. Down the road, more U.S. states and countries such as Belgium, Romania and Myanmar are expected to join the effort to educate safer drivers.
Ford DSFL partners with government organizations such as the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) to determine which locations could benefit most from Ford DSFL training. For example, Ford DSFL is continuing its partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation on Operation Teen Safe Driving, which has helped reduce teen auto fatalities by 48 percent. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning modeled Strive 4 A Safer Drive after the Illinois program and will reach out to more than three dozen high schools this year.
“Ford’s commitment to partnering with states on teen driver education remains unprecedented,” said GHSA Chairman Kendell Poole. “With state and federal highway safety funding continuing to be limited, Ford’s support is increasingly critical.”
Ford DSFL focuses on four main categories: speed management, vehicle spacing, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.
An important educational tool for students and parents is the redesigned Ford DSFL website www.drivingskillsforlife.com that includes an enhanced version of the interactive Web-based training called “The Academy.” The new website will feature interactive games and quizzes, and the opportunity to earn points toward items in the Ford DSFL Store. The entire website is accessible across multiple platforms, including mobile devices, making it easy for teens, parents and educators to access information on the go.
“As a parent of children who have recently acquired driving licenses, helping kids to learn to drive more safely has my whole-hearted support,” said Stephen Odell, president, Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Our vision is that a whole generation of young drivers will benefit from this program.”