California Office of Traffic Safety Special to the Express The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Ford Motor Company Fund and California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) are teaming up to provide free safe driving clinics for teens in Northern and Southern California throughout August. The hands-on Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program will launch in the Sacramento region Aug. 28-29. Parents/guardians may register their teen(s) for a free training session at drivingskillsforlife.com. Now in its 18th year, Ford Driving Skills for Life pairs newly licensed drivers with professional driving instructors for next-level instruction. The program addresses the critical factors responsible for most crashes, including vehicle handling, hazard recognition, speed and space management, distracted driving and impaired driving. The clinics focus on skills and information not currently offered in standard driver education courses. “We know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens,” said Jonathan Adkins, GHSA Executor Director. “Each year, more than 2,000 teen vehicle occupant deaths occur. Speeding and inexperience are often critical factors in these accidents.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 38,680 people were killed on U.S roadways in 2020, the highest number since 2007 and an increase of 7.2 percent from the year before. Alarmingly, traffic deaths surged in 2020, reaching a 13-year high even though there was a significant decline in driving during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, recent studies have revealed that parents are frustrated and concerned with the lack of in-car training offered to newly licensed teen drivers, especially during the pandemic. “The lack of experience of newly licensed drivers remains a serious problem resulting in a disproportionate number of crashes for teens. We are grateful to be able to safely resume free, hands-on training that is so desperately needed,” said Jim Graham, Global Manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life. In California, drivers ages 16-19 are nearly three times as likely to be in a serious crash compared to other drivers. In California, 164 teens ages 16 to 19 were killed in crashes in 2019, with 354 drivers 20 and under involved in deadly crashes across the U.S. over the same time period. “Experience and training make for better drivers, particularly newly licensed teens,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “We are thrilled to kick off this great program in California that puts parents at ease by providing teens with life-long safe driving skills.” Around the world, Ford Driving Skills for Life trainings are being resumed in many countries throughout North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Since 2008, the international Ford Driving Skills for Life program has grown and provided valuable insights into addressing road safety issues worldwide. Ford Driving Skills for Life has invested more than $60 million to provide free, advanced driver education to more than 1 million newly licensed teen drivers in all 50 U.S. states and 46 countries worldwide since 2003. For more information and updates on tour locations as well as COVID-19 safety protocols, visit drivingskillsforlife.com.