Ford Fund, GHSA host free, hands-on teen driving clinics for new drivers

Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) offered a free, hands-on training clinic to novice, teen drivers on Saturday.
Published: Jun. 11, 2022 at 12:46 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) offered a free, hands-on training clinic to novice, teen drivers on Saturday.

The Ford Driving Skills for Life program will be held at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday and Sunday to help newly licensed teen drivers gain additional practice and skills behind the wheel, the release said.

“Teens are new, inexperienced drivers and Driving Skills for Life allows young drivers to learn in a safe environment alongside a professional instructor,” Senior manager of Ford Motor Company Fund Joe Avila said. “Our hands-on lessons reinforce the importance of developing safe driving habits while also exposing teens to risky behaviors like impaired or distracted driving, and demonstrating why they are dangerous.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death among new, teen drivers. Teens are twice as likely as adult drivers to be in a crash.

In 2021, there were 64 fatal crashes and 3,010 injury crashes involving a teenage driver, according to data from Kentucky’s statewide integrated traffic records system.

“Unfortunately, if you look at over the last couple years during COVID- the trends have been going in the wrong direction,” Spokesperson Nolan Katerberg said. “What we’ll find is the teens had a great time, they learned something, and they think oh my goodness- I didn’t realize how quick things can happen when I’m driving in front of me.”

Parents brought their teens out Saturday to give them a chance to experience the dangers of driving.

”Even in my 30 years of driving, roads have gotten crazier, people have gotten crazier on the roads,” a father of a student driver, Mark Mueller, at the event said.

The hands-on training included four rotations, including hazard recognition, where students get to learn more about the symbols on the dashboard, and the parts under the hood. There was also distracted driving, simulated impaired driving, and a vehicle handing course.

“The skidding was really fun, but it was really hard to get a hang of at first,” student driver Jeremy Mueller said.

Student drivers get multiple chances to self correct, until it becomes muscle memory.

”It’s not a mistake, it’s a teaching point. And I try to push that with the kids. They are like, I made a mistake- and I’m like no it’s a teaching point. So they get the ah ha moment of they, I now know what to do when the car does this,” Driving Instructor Michelle Gore said.

The goal is that the teens gain experience to make the right decisions behind the wheel in real life.

”The kids, they come out here, at first they might be a little skittish, then they are like oh, I can do this. They are empowered,” Gore said.

The Ford Driving Skills for Life program has been around for 19 years and pairs newly licensed or permitted drivers with professional driving instructors for hands-on driving training.

“Safe driving is a skill that is learned over time,” Secretary Jim Gray said. “We are grateful to have Ford as a partner to encourage safe driving behaviors that develop confidence in young drivers and provide peace of mind for parents.”

The free training clinic will be held from June 11-12 and will focus on addressing issues and critical factors that influence crashes, including vehicle handling, hazard recognition, speed and space management, and more.

“Teen drivers are more likely than any other age group to be involved in a fatal crash due to inexperience and maturity,” GHSA Senior Director of External Engagement Pam Shadel Fischer said. “With programs like Ford Driving Skills for Life, we are reaching both new drivers and their parents with information that helps reduce risky driving behaviors.

Parents and or guardians are encouraged to participate with their teen(s).

To register a teen for a free training session, click or tap here.

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