New Partnership Launches Teen-Focused Strive For A Safer Drive

Schools invited to apply for participation by Oct. 21

Oct 11, 2011, 09:00 ET from AAA Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Teens will be in the driver's seat during a new safe driving initiative. More than 300 high schools in 11 pilot counties are being invited to take part in a potentially life-saving project aimed at making students better and safer drivers.  

Strive For A Safer Drive (S4SD) provides funding and resources to help teens talk to teens about safe driving in the hopes of reducing serious traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities among Michigan's most inexperienced drivers.  

Project sponsors AAA Michigan, Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) officially launched S4SD today at Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn. Interested schools must apply for this unique opportunity by Oct. 21.

S4SD will accommodate up to 50 high schools for the pilot 2011-2012 school year. Participating schools will receive a $2,000 grant from AAA Michigan to help fund activities. A team of students from each school will be asked to create their own peer-to-peer campaign focusing on seat belt use, speeding, underage drinking/impaired driving and/or distracted driving.

Following three months of campaign activities, schools will prepare a summary detailing their accomplishments and present the reports to a group of sponsor representatives. The schools determined to have the top campaigns will be eligible to send students to a free Ford DSFL hands-on driving clinic with professional driving instructors.

The award-winning Ford DSFL driving clinics build young drivers' skills in the four key areas that contribute to more than 60 percent of teen crashes; driver distraction, speed space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition.

OHSP, the state's highway safety office, is handling program coordination and is the direct point of contact for interested and participating high schools.

The S4SD pilot project is open to high schools in the top counties for teen traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Those counties are: Genesee, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Ottawa, Washtenaw and Wayne.

Teens and young adults, ages 16-24, are disproportionately involved in Michigan motor vehicle crashes. In 2009, this age group compromised around 14 percent of Michigan's active driving population, yet represented over 22 percent of drivers in all crashes and nearly 19 percent of drivers in fatal crashes.

In 2007, Ford DSFL began a similar project with traffic safety officials and private organizations in Illinois. Since 2006, Illinois has seen a 50 percent reduction in teen traffic fatalities.

About AAA Michigan

AAA Michigan offers travel, insurance and financial services to more than 1.6 million members in Michigan. It has been a leader in traffic safety, including teen driving safety, for nearly a century. It is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America, serving members, insureds and other customers across 11 states and two U.S. territories. ACG belongs to the national AAA Federation, with nearly 53 members in the United States and Canada whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving travel safety.

About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services

Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and American heritage and community life. The Ford Motor Company Fund has operated for more than 60 years with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. The award-winning Ford DSFL program teaches new drivers through a variety of hands-on and interactive methods. Innovation in education is encouraged through national programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. 

About OHSP

OHSP is dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on Michigan roads through leadership, innovation, facilitation and program support in partnership with other traffic safety professionals. Since its inception following the Highway Safety Action of 1966, traffic-related fatalities have decreased to historic lows. Michigan also boasts one of the highest seat belt use rates in the country, achieved through a primary seat belt law and the dedicated efforts of law enforcement officers, OHSP staff and traffic safety partners throughout the state.