(Dearborn, MI) -- According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 6,000 teens die each year from injuries resulting from car crashes – making it the number one killer of teens in America. Yet, a recent national survey by Wirthlin Worldwide shows that many people underestimate the challenges novice drivers face. When asked, 56 percent of Americans named drug abuse as the leading health threat teenagers face, with only 13 percent identifying teen driving crashes as the number one threat.

To help raise awareness and fight back against this serious youth health issue, Ford Motor Company, along with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), today announced the launch of Real World Driver: Driving Skills for Life at a press conference in Dearborn, Michigan.

Real World Driver is a multi-year, educational campaign aimed at teens, parents and the education community. The program includes a teacher's guide, video and other materials that are being distributed to every public high school in the country (more than 20,000 schools). An interactive Web site --www.realworlddriver.com -- also has been launched to give students and parents more information about driving skills and provide visitors the opportunity to take a quiz online for a chance to win exciting prizes.

 
 

Four Critical Driving Skills

To design the program, Ford and GHSA convened a distinguished panel of safety experts that included NHTSA, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Highway Safety Committee and The Transportation Safety Association. According to the Real World Driver Advisory Board, the four key driving skills young drivers should master are: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management.

Ford Direct

Wirthlin’s research also indicated that just 11 percent of parents and 12 percent of all adults are satisfied with the training resources available to first-time drivers. Moreover, nearly all parents (94 percent) are concerned about their teens driving independently.

Buckle Up

While hands-on, behind-the-wheel training and educational materials are important elements of any safe driving program, Ford reminds all drivers that safety belts continue to provide the single, most effective protection in any vehicle crash.