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SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) officials today joined representatives from The Allstate Foundation and the Illinois State Police at the Illinois State Fairgrounds to kick off the seventh year of Operation Teen Safe Driving (OTSD). The statewide program, also sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund, is administered by IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety. Since 2007, this nationally recognized program, has contributed to a 55 percent decline in teen fatalities resulting from motor vehicle crashes on Illinois roadways, including teen drivers, passengers, pedestrians and pedacyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes.
“We are grateful for the success of the teen safe driving program and its lifesaving results,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “It is important to note that despite the reductions in overall fatalities, we are very concerned that 71 teens died on our roadways last year as a result of vehicle crashes. The loss of even a single life is simply unacceptable, and that is why IDOT embraces the goal of zero fatalities on Illinois roadways.”
“Teen drivers become responsible adult drivers and we are encouraged to know that these young people are taking their driving responsibilities seriously,” said ISP Colonel Mike Zerbonia. “The Operation Teen Safe Drivinginitiative provides an opportunity for our young drivers to create innovative messages about safe driving in their schools and community to reduce the number of teen motor vehicle crashes and fatalities,” added Colonel Zerbonia.
The goal of Operation Teen Safe Driving is to reduce teen fatalities and injuries by utilizing the creativity of Illinois teens in a friendly competition to influence their respective communities. The program enables all Illinois high schools to apply for grants to initiate a peer-led teen safe driving program within their schools. The schools compete against other schools within their regions for one of five winning spots. The winners receive prize money to use toward post-prom events, and are invited to participate in Ford Motor Company Fund’s Driving Skills for Life Ride and Drive events in Spring 2014.
“Ford Motor Company Fund is proud to call Operation Teen Safe Driving one of its signature programs,” said Jim Graham, Manager of Ford’s Driving Skills for Life Program. “Educating teen drivers through peer-to-peer engagement combined with behind-the-wheel training is fundamental in the lifelong process of becoming safer drivers. As we look back on six years of life-saving results, we are encouraged and committed to continuing the seventh year of our partnership in Illinois.”
This lifesaving, innovative program is augmented by crucial sponsorships from the Ford Motor Company Fund and The Allstate Foundation as it enlists young people to teach and promote safe driving skills to their peers.
“The Allstate Foundation is honored to be part of this positive approach to addressing the number one killer of teens,” said Bill McGrath, Regional Sales Leader for Allstate’s Midwest Region. “We are proud to support Operation Teen Safe Driving for the seventh year and look forward to a continued decline in crashes – and fatalities – involving teens on Illinois roadways.”
Applications are now available at www.teensafedrivingillinois.org and are due October 1, 2013 for the 2013-14 school year. Based on the applications submitted, a minimum of 10 schools will be selected from each of the seven regions. Those selected schools will then receive $2,000 to develop their teen safe driving program. From each of the seven regions, five top winners will receive prizes to be used at their post-prom events in amounts from $500 to $2,500. In addition to the monetary prizes, each of the winning schools will be invited to attend one of the Ford Motor Company Fund’s Driving Skills for Life Ride and Drive events. The events provide a lifetime opportunity for teens to learn critical driving techniques from professional drivers in a controlled environment.
“We challenge teens to help us take advantage of the opportunities this program offers by proactively encouraging their peers to drive responsibly and setting a good example themselves. All drivers need to put away their cell phones and texting devices while driving and focus on arriving safely. Remember, impaired and distracted driving represent real-life challenges and the consequences are deadly. We encourage everyone to make the right choices,” Schneider added.
The selection process requires students to identify significant traffic safety issues within each of their communities, including underage drinking, driving unbuckled, driving impaired and driving distracted. The teen proposals will provide information explaining how they would combat the problem and implement a teen awareness program in their school and community. A total of 105 high schools participated in the 2012-13 program.