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2006 Driving Skills For Life Program Hits The Road March 23-24 In Ocoee, Florida


OCOEE, Fla. – March 23-24, 2006 – Driving Skills for Life, aimed at reducing the tragic number of teenagers killed annually in vehicle crashes, gets its 2006 program under way with an event for some 300 students from four Orange County high schools Thursday-Friday, March 23-24, at the Florida Auto Auction, 11801 West Colonial Drive, in the Orlando suburb of Ocoee.

Established in 2003 by Ford Motor Company, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and a panel of safety experts, the program develops skills necessary for safe driving beyond what youngsters learn in standard driver education programs.

Vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teenagers in America. Nearly 6,000 teens die annually in such accidents – 5,896 in 2004, including 371 in Florida, the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, studies demonstrate that crash rates decline considerably as young drivers gain experience. Driving Skills for Life 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
* Speed Management

The teens at the Florida Auto Auction site will be honing their skills in those areas on a driving course under the supervision of a team of professional instructors.

Students from West Orange High School – which alone has had five teen driving deaths in the past six months – Ocoee High School, Olympia High School and Dr. Phillips High School will be participating in the program in the Florida Auto Auction parking lot over the two days. Each school will provide approximately 75 students.

On March 23, West Orange High School s tudents will register at 8:30 a.m. and participate in sessions until 12:30 p.m. At 10:30 during the morning program the first day, there will be an introductory news conference, with comments by school, community and political leaders and Ford officials. In the afternoon March 23, Ocoee High School students will take part in the program from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. The next day, March 24, Olympia High School students will participate from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and the group from Dr. Phillips High School from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

“This program gained a lot of momentum in 2005, and we intend to make it even better in 2006,” said Susan M. Cischke, Ford Vice President, Environmental and Safety Engineering. “While it’s important that Ford Motor Company continues to develop safer vehicles for our customers and their families, it also is imperative for us to educate people about all aspects of safe driving, especially those just beginning to drive.”

Added Kevin Thibault, Assistant Secretary for Engineering & Operations for the Florida Department of Transportation and the state’s GHSA representative: “Teenage drivers today realize the excitement of driving a car and the freedoms associated with it. But, many times, they don’t necessarily realize the risks they have accepted with this new privilege. This program, in concert with many others, will get the message across to our teens that buckling up, driving without any impairments, and being responsible are expectations not only of them, but of all drivers.”

Heidi Koch, president of the Parent Teacher Student Association of West Orange High School in the Orange County Public Schools system – 12 th-largest in the nation – is a leading advocate for safe teen driving, and said, “We have worked to educate the community, and Driving Skills for Life will further that mission. The goal in all of this is to challenge the devastating statistics for teen drivers.”

Driving Skills for Life , coordinated by the Ford Motor Company Fund, provides excellent learning tools, including an interactive web site,, and in-depth CD video and brochures. There is no charge for the materials, which not only can be used by young drivers, but also by educators and parents in school or community settings. Teens can test their knowledge and earn prizes by participating on-line. The web site is being updated and will be launched in late March.

New for 2006 are a 30-minute documentary on Driving Skills for Life, to be broadcast this spring on public television stations, including PBS, and enhanced curriculum on the web site, notably the importance of eco-driving to personal safety and the environment.

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures and distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. With about 300,000 employees and 108 plants worldwide, the company’s core and affiliated automotive brands include Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo. Its automotive-related services include Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit


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