SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Transportation, The Ford Motor Company Fund, The Allstate Foundation, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, and Illinois State Police (ISP) today announced the seven winning schools from the 2011-2012 Operation Teen Safe Driving (OTSD) program. The announcement comes as Illinois records declining teen fatality numbers in automobile crashes, demonstrating a 48 percent decrease in 2011 as compared to 2007, when the program first began. The program includes the support of Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois State Board of Education and the national Governor’s Highway Safety Association.
“Illinois is a national leader in teen safety,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider. “The innovation, dedication and collaborative efforts of IDOT and partners in successful programs like OTSD have significantly impacted and improved roadway safety across the state. The peer-led program creates student ownership and allows participants to analyze traffic safety issues, utilize problem solving skills, generate and implement creative solutions directly within their community.”
In total, 105 schools statewide were initially selected to participate in the innovative program, modeled after The Ford Motor Company Fund’s nationally recognized Ford Driving Skills for Life teen safety program. The fifth year of the statewide program kicked off in August 2011 encouraging high school students to use their creativity and imagination to develop a program to educate their peers on the dangers of unsafe driving practices.
“The Ford Motor Company Fund is very pleased to be returning for the fifth year as the lead partner of this important teen safe driving initiative,” said Jim Graham, Manager of Community Relations Ford Fund and Community Services. “Operation Teen Safe Driving combines education and training to maximize success. As evidenced by the dropping teen fatality rate, this innovative program is truly making a difference on the roads in Illinois and beyond.”
Thirty-five high schools have been selected to participate in The Ford Motor Company Fund’s Driving Skills for Life, Ride and Drive events. These events will take place in Chicago on April 23-24, and in Springfield on April 26-27. The Ride and Drive events will feature professional drivers providing young drivers with rigorous behind the wheel driving exercises, including hazard recognition/accident avoidance, vehicle handling/skid control and speed/space management. Additionally, the top five winning schools in each of the seven regions will receive prizes ranging from $500-$2,500 to host a post prom event.
“The Allstate Foundation is honored to continue to serve as a leading partner in the combined effort to eliminate distracted driving and save teen lives on Illinois roadways,” said Bill McGrath, Allstate Insurance Regional Sales Leader and father of teen drivers.“With high school prom and graduation celebrations just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to remind teens and their parents about the safety responsibilities young drivers assume every time they get behind the wheel.”
Another important teen driving initiative includes the Graduated Driver Licensing law introduced by Secretary of State White. The law, made effective January 1, 2008, gave teens additional behind the wheel driving experience under the watchful eye of a parent or guardian, limits in-car distractions, and requires teens to earn their way from one stage to the next by avoiding traffic convictions. Leading national traffic safety experts have recognized the law as one of the best in the nation.
“When I established the Teen Driver Safety Task Force the goal was to improve Illinois’ graduated driver licensing (GDL) law and, even more importantly, to save lives,” said Secretary of State White. “I am encouraged that teen driving deaths are down by nearly 50 percent since the law took effect January 1, 2008. This law, in conjunction with the Operation Teen Safe Driving initiative, is having the intended impact on teen driving safety. My congratulations to the winners as well as to all schools that participated in this important program. Working together, we can save more lives and make Illinois roads safer for all of us.”
“The men and women of the Illinois State Police remain steadfast in their commitment to reducing teen fatalities,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “Operation Teen Safe Driving provides an additional opportunity for our Safety Education Officers to reach young drivers and educate them about establishing good driving habits. We congratulate these young men and women for their winning efforts to encourage others to be safe drivers.”
The winning schools in each region are as follows:
Region One: 1st place: Oak Forest High School; 2nd place; Evergreen Park Community High School; 3rd place: John Hersey High School; 4th place: Thornton Fractional North High School; 5th place: Wells Community Academy High School
Region Two: 1st place: Gardner South Wilmington High School; 2nd place: H.D. Jacobs High School; 3rd place: Glenbard West High School; 4th place: Lincoln-Way Central High School; 5th place: Crystal Lake Central High School
Region Three: 1st place: Ottawa Township High School; 2nd place: Milledgeville High School; 3rd place: Riverdale High School; 4th place: Lena-Winslow High School; 5th place: Rockridge High School
Region Four: 1st place: Fieldcrest High School; 2nd place: Quincy Senior High School; 3rd place: Beardstown High School; 4th place: Sacred Heart-Griffin High School; 5th place: Riverton High School
Region Five: 1st place: Donovan High School; 2nd place: Neoga High School; 3rd place: Deland-Weldon High School; 4th place: Meridian High School; 5th place: Tuscola Community High School
Region Six: 1st place: Marquette High School; 2nd place: Murphysboro High School; 3rd place: Elverado High School; 4th place: North Greene High School; 5th place: Egyptian High School
Region Seven: 1st place: Wayne City High School; 2nd place: Mt. Carmel High School; 3rd place: Herrin High School: 4th place: Norris City-Omaha Enfield High School; 5th place: Sesser-Valier High School