FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2023
$94,000 in funding for Missouri, Montana, New York and Oklahoma will support teen traffic safety programs in economically disadvantaged areas to create safer mobility journeys for everyone, including non-motorists
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Ford Motor Company, are celebrating a 20-year partnership dedicated to youth traffic safety by awarding grants totaling $94,000 to four states to advance access to safe mobility for teens in underserved and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and the inexperience of novice drivers puts everyone on the road at risk. Overall traffic fatalities have surged in recent years – nearly 43,000 people died in crashes on U.S. roads in 2021, a 16-year high. An increase in dangerous driving at the start of the pandemic has not abated, creating deadly conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. A recent data analysis from GHSA found that drivers killed 3,434 people walking in the first half of 2022 – an average of 19 deaths every day. That follows a 40-year high in pedestrian fatalities in 2021. Training teens to be safer drivers helps them protect themselves, their passengers and everyone else on the road, both now and in the future.
“Today’s teens will be on the road – walking, biking, scooting and driving – for decades to come, so it’s critical they have the resources and knowledge needed to keep themselves and everyone else safe,” said GHSA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins. “I’m thrilled to see our long-running partnership with Ford Motor Company Fund, now in its 20th year, evolve to focus on ensuring safe mobility in underserved areas.”
The 2022 grants will enable four states – Missouri, Montana, New York and Oklahoma – to support, implement and evaluate teen-centric safe mobility programs. The programs being funded include:
- The Missouri Department of Transportation is sponsoring driver education training opportunities for teens in foster care to receive the instruction required to obtain a driver’s license under the state’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) law. There are currently 4,578 teens in the Missouri foster care system, and many do not have the resources or support needed to complete novice driver training. This program also seeks to increase youth awareness about the dangers of driving distracted.
- The Montana Department of Transportation is partnering with the Tribal Community program, “Safe On All Roads” (SOAR), to establish a teen peer-to-peer program that will produce distracted driving messaging campaigns for Native American teens. The statewide campaign is a call to action to Montana’s Tribal Communities, providing funding for local SOAR Coordinators to develop traffic safety and public outreach in their respective communities.
- The New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee will partner with Teen Driving Solutions to bring hands-on driver education opportunities to teens from communities throughout the state in coordination with the Mohawk Valley Refugee Center and SADD. Teen Driving Solutions is a two-day novice driving program that helps teens and their parents understand driving fundamentals such as sound judgement, good decision-making and physical control of any vehicle in real-life road and traffic conditions. Participating teens will receive in-car instruction addressing how to safely handle their vehicle and eliminate distractions along with the importance of buckling up.
- The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) is focusing its efforts on rural roads, which account for the greatest number of driving fatalities among the state’s teens. OHSO is partnering with Oklahoma Challenge (OK Challenge) and Work Zone Safe to provide resources to teen leaders and advisors from the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and 4-H programs. Teen leaders will be tasked with recruiting their peers to participate in the OK Challenge Safest Driver App contest and complete the online Work Zone Safe education program to promote the use of safety technology and incentivize positive driving behaviors.
“Safety continues to be a key priority for Ford Fund and providing programs like Driving Skills for Life helps to ensure drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are sharing the road safely and responsibly,” said Joe Provenzano, Mobility Director at Ford Fund. “We’re excited to expand our efforts to help reduce the number of crashes and create safer journeys for people – whether they're walking, driving, roller skating or riding a skateboard.”
Since 2003, Ford Motor Company Fund has invested more than $60 million in the Ford Driving Skills for Life program, a long-standing contribution to the goal of zero traffic deaths on U.S. roads. Driving Skills for Life provides free, advanced, hands-on driver education – including sessions on protecting pedestrians, bicyclists and scooter riders – to more than 1.25 million newly licensed teen drivers in all 50 U.S. states and 46 countries worldwide. Giving teens the tools and training they need to make better decisions behind the wheel creates safer roadway conditions for everyone, regardless of whether a motor vehicle is part of their mobility journey. For more information and updates on upcoming tour locations, visit drivingskillsforlife.com.
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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Visit ghsa.org for more information or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Ford Motor Company Fund
As the global philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund focuses on providing access to essential services, education for the future of work and entrepreneurship opportunities for under-resourced and underrepresented communities. Ford Fund’s partnerships and programming are designed to be responsive to unique community needs, ensuring people have equitable opportunities to move forward. Harnessing Ford’s scale, resources and mobility expertise, Ford Fund drives meaningful impact through grantmaking, Ford Community Centers and employee volunteerism. For more information, visit fordfund.org or join us at @FordFund on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.