BARTONVILLE – The Blagojevich Administration announces that students from nine winning schools in the state’s Operation Teen Safe Driving program will be taking part in a safe-driving clinic put on by Ford, one of the sponsors of the program, in Bartonville today and tomorrow. This month, students from winning high schools around the state are receiving behind-the-wheel instruction at driving skills training events in Chicago, the Peoria area and the Metro East area as part of Ford’s Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) teen safe driving program that is designed to reduce teen auto fatalities.
The safe-driving clinics got underway earlier this week, just days after officials announced provisional data shows that teen traffic fatalities are down sharply in Illinois in 2008. From January 1st through May 1st, 24 teens (ages 16-19) lost their lives on Illinois roadways. During the same time period last year, there were 67 deaths.
“We’ve made great progress to reduce the number of teenage lives lost on our roadways, and I think a lot of the credit goes to teens themselves – for getting involved in Operation Teen Safe Driving,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “But we don’t want to lose momentum and that’s why it is exciting that so many teens are getting the opportunity to learn safe driving techniques from professional drivers in these driving clinics put on by our partners at Ford.”
Operation Teen Safe Driving is a partnership spearheaded by Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety and includes Secretary of State Jesse White, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, the Governors Highway Safety Association, Ford Motor Company Fund and The Allstate Foundation. This statewide initiative is modeled on the nationally recognized Ford Driving Skills for Life high school based pilot project implemented in 2005 by Ford, the Governors Highway Safety Association, IDOT, the Illinois State Police and local partners that halted an epidemic of 15 teen fatalities in Tazewell County in 2005 and 2006.
“The Driving Skills for Life program exemplifies a commitment to safety, not only by Ford Motor Company, but by an entire community,” said Jim Graham, community relations manager of Ford Motor Company Fund. “We applaud the Illinois officials and teens around the state for making teen safe driving a top priority – we hope other states follow their lead.”
In total, 104 high schools statewide participated in Operation Teen Safe Driving. Launched in November 2007, the program empowers high school students to educate their peers about driving in hopes of decreasing the number of fatalities and crashes involving teenagers in Illinois.
The new teen driver safety law initiated by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White makes Illinois’ graduated driver licensing program one of the toughest and best in the nation. Effective January 1, 2008, the law gives teens more time to obtain valuable driving experience while under the watchful eye of a parent or guardian, limits in-car distractions, and requires the teens to earn their way from one stage to the next by avoiding traffic convictions.
28 high schools that proposed the most innovative safe driving ideas have been selected to participate in a half-day Ford-sponsored “Ride and Drive” safe-driving clinic. The “Ride and Drive” events feature professional drivers giving young drivers rigorous behind the wheel driving exercises, including: Hazard Recognition/Accident Avoidance, Vehicle Handling/Skid Control and Speed/Space Management.
“We are very impressed by our high school students, whose efforts are helping make our roadways safer,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “Operation Teen Safe Driving has been a very successful initiative, and we are proud to lead the way as the first state to offer a program of this magnitude.”
"The Illinois State Police are honored to have partnered in this new safety program in an effort to save the lives of teen drivers," said Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent. "Operation Teen Safe Driving provides a means for young drivers to use their creativity and energy to increase awareness and safety on Illinois roadways."
In addition to the top four high schools in each region receiving an invitation to attend the Ford Driving Skills for Life “Ride and Drive” hands-on training, The Allstate Foundation has made it possible for the top school in each region to receive $5,000 for an after-prom party. Also, up to 104 schools around the state will receive $1,000 to $3,000 for continuation of their Operation Teen Safe Driving programs.
The 28 winning schools are as follows:
1 Curie Metro High School Chicago, IL
2 Maria High School Chicago, IL
3 Dunbar Vocational Career Academy Chicago, IL
4 De La Salle Institute Chicago, IL
1 Wheeling High School Wheeling, IL
2 Seton Academy South Holland, IL
3 Elk Grove High School Elk Grove, IL
4 Alan B. Shepard High School Palos Heights, IL
1 Lake Forest High School Lake Forest, IL
2 Romeoville High School Romeoville, IL
3 Batavia High School Batavia, IL
4 Lincoln-Way Central High School New Lenox, IL
1 Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School Paxton, IL
2 Clifton Central High School Clifton, IL
3 Alleman Catholic High School Rock Island, IL
4 Gardner-South Wilmington High School Gardner, IL
1 Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School Mackinaw, IL
2 Morton High School Morton, IL
3 LeRoy High School LeRoy, IL
4 Fieldcrest High School Minonk, IL
1 Midwest Central High School Manito, IL
2 Quincy Senior High School Quincy, IL
3 Gillespie High School Gillespie, IL
4 Pleasant Plains High School Pleasant Plains, IL
1 Sesser-Valier High School Sesser, IL
2 Mascoutah Community High School Mascoutah, IL
3 Harrisburg High School Harrisburg, IL
4 Edwardsville High School Edwardsville, IL
For more information about Operation Teen Safe Driving, go to: www.buckleupillinois.org.