Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American teenagers, claiming nearly 3,000 lives each year.* That sobering statistic is why we are so conflicted when it’s time for our teens to climb behind the wheel of a car: we love the thought of them growing up and gaining more independence, but we hate to think about the risks.
Fortunately, motor vehicle manufacturers are taking teen safety very seriously, and one of the pioneers of safer teen driving is Ford.
In 2003, Ford introduced Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL), which was developed in conjunction with the Governors Highway Safety Association and a panel of safety experts. The Ford DSFL program addresses four key areas that factor into the majority of young driver accidents: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, speed and space management, and distractions.
Using a combination of hands-on training, school and community programs, free educator kits, celebrity spokespeople and social media, the Ford DSFL program has trained tens of thousands of teen drivers and reached millions more with the message of safer, smarter in-car decision-making.
Ford is also lead sponsor of the Parent’s Supervised Driving Program (PSDP), a 50-state effort to help teen drivers achieve their graduated driver’s license. The PDSP recognizes that crash rates are highest during a teen’s first few hundred miles on the road, and guides parents on how to support their teen drivers and make sure they are ready. Helpful materials include a driving log that parents and teens can use to track hours, time of day, weather conditions, and other factors that affect driver performance.
But Ford’s contribution to safer teen driving doesn’t stop with improved training and messaging. The Ford MyKey in-vehicle security system allows parents to configure various on-board features to enhance safety and reduce or eliminate distractions. Using a programmable key, parents can mute the audio system until the front seat belts are engaged; limit a vehicle’s top speed; ensure certain safety settings can’t be deactivated; and remotely control the volume of the radio. By setting a tough “no distractions” rule, parents can help teens keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
No one program or collection of programs can entirely eliminate the risks associated with driving a motor vehicle, but Ford’s approach of better training, more informed parental supervision, and on-board safety features can go a long way to reducing those risks. When it comes to our kids and driving, it’s impossible to give them too much support!
*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Disclosure: The Online Mom receives a fee for participating in certain promotional campaigns for Ford Motor Company.