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States Receive Teen Driving Grants for Innovative Projects

teen driver (select to view enlarged photo)

Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Utah Selected

WASHINGTON--July 11, 2013: With the summer driving season--the deadliest time on the road for teens--in full swing, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) announced that five of its members have been awarded a total of $100,000 in teen driving grant funding from Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL). Elements of the award-winning teen driving program, developed collaboratively by Ford Motor Company Fund and GHSA, will be incorporated into initiatives implemented by the highway safety offices in Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Utah.

Earlier this year, GHSA invited its members to apply for the grant, which provides $20,000 each in seed money for teen-driving related activities. A panel consisting of GHSA and Ford representatives reviewed the applications and selected the following state initiatives:

Georgia -- The Governor's Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) will use the grant to award $500 scholarships to the 21 teens currently serving on the Governor's Commission on Teen Driving and host a Ford DSFL event. The nation's first all-teen Commission, which was convened in November 2012 and issued a recommendation report to Governor Nathan Deal in March, will partner with GOHS to plan and implement a teen safe driving event in Savannah. The Ford DSFL activity will provide Commission members the opportunity to reach their peers with key safe driving strategies and messages.

Maine -- The Bureau of Highway Safety will use the funds to develop a distracted driving video targeted to teens 15-20 years of age. The state agency will also partner with Maine's top teen radio stations to sponsor a teen safe driving contest. Teens working in teams will be invited to build a campaign that addresses safe driving during prom and graduation season. The winning teams will join with on-air personalities to discuss their campaigns and record a commercial message.

Massachusetts -- The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Highway Safety Division will build upon its successful No Distractions - Just Drive! one-day event first held in 2011. The interactive program, which incorporates elements of Ford DSFL, will provide young drivers and their parents the opportunity to get behind the wheel with professional driving instructors and learn crash avoidance and vehicle control techniques with a focus on eliminating distractions.

Mississippi -- The Governor's Office of Highway Safety will collaborate with DREAM, Inc., which administers the state's youth highway safety program, to host a highway safety day in October. Students from four high schools located across the state will participate in a series of safe driving activities including a DSFL Game Show, Mock Crash, Rock the Seat Belt, and hands-on driving course using golf carts. High schools will also be invited to design a billboard promoting a safe driving message with the winning outdoor entry displayed in the local community.

Utah -- The Highway Safety Office in the state's Department of Public Safety will use the grant to expand its efforts to teach teens how to be better prepared for winter driving conditions. Teens participating in the Utah Highway Patrol's Teen Driving Challenge will have the opportunity to learn and practice skid control on a course equipped with snowmaking equipment. This skill is critical since the state's largest population area averages 55 inches of snow in a 24-day period.

Since its creation in 2003, Ford DSFL has partnered with nearly every GHSA member on a wide-variety of teen driving programs and activities. "Providing teens the opportunity to participate in, and in some cases plan and implement hands-on programs, is an effective countermeasure for reducing crash risk," said GHSA Chairman Kendell Poole. "We thank Ford and the Driving Skills for Life team for continuing to partner with the states on this important effort."

In addition to the state grants, GHSA and Ford are planning major fall teen training events in Tennessee, Virginia and Arizona. More information is available at Driving Skills For Life