SPRINGFIELD – Building upon the success of the inaugural 2008 Operation Teen Safe Driving initiative, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the selection of 106 selected entries from Illinois high schools for the 2009 statewide safety program. Launched in November 2007, Operation Teen Safe Driving is a statewide initiative designed to help Illinois high schools implement local teen-led safe driving campaigns to decrease the number of traffic fatalities and crashes involving teenagers.
Provisional data shows that after the inception of the program, the number of teen fatalities dropped from 121 (ages 16-19) from January through September 2007 to 63 teens during the same period this year.
“The Operation Teen Safe Driving initiative has helped sharply reduce the number of teen fatalities in Illinois and we’re very proud of that,” said Governor Blagojevich. “We will continue to do everything we can to bring that number down to zero and ensure the safety of our young people on Illinois roadways.”
The Office of the Governor, Illinois Secretary of State, Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Division of Traffic Safety, Illinois State Police, Illinois State Board of Education, and Illinois Liquor Control Commission in partnership with the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Allstate Foundation are all backing the Operation Teen Safe Driving program. Also supporting the Illinois campaign are the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, RADD (“The Entertainment Industry’s Voice of Road Safety”), SADD (originally founded as “Students Against Drunk Driving” and now standing for “Students Against Destructive Decisions”).
“I commend these students for going above and beyond to educate their peers and help make our roadways safer,” said IDOT Secretary Milton R. Sees. “Operation Teen Safe Driving has been a success and we are proud to be the first state to offer a program of this magnitude.”
Operation Teen Safe Driving is modeled from the nationally recognized Ford Driving Skills for Life high school-based pilot project and Secretary of State Jesse White’s Teen Driving Task Force.
“The graduated drivers license law that resulted from the recommendations of my Teen Driver Safety Task Force has made Illinois' teen driver program one of the strongest in the nation and, more importantly, is saving lives,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “I am encouraged by the significant decrease in teen driving deaths so far in 2008 and I think the public awareness generated by the new law, in conjunction with the Operation Teen Safe Driving initiative, is clearly having a positive impact on teen driving safety.”
Students were required to identify issues relating to traffic safety in their community and design and implement an awareness curriculum that combats the traffic safety problem in their school. Selected schools were chosen based on their effectiveness in identifying the problem, creativity of proposals in addressing the problem and the program’s ability to reach teens and the entire community. Schools will have program staff assigned to them, and students will be encouraged to implement the programs they have designed.
Ultimately, high schools that come up with the most creative solutions will be invited to participate in a half-day Ford Motor Company Fund sponsored “Ride and Drive” safe-driving clinic. These clinics will be taking place in the Chicago area, Central Illinois and Metro-East area. These “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.
“On behalf of the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Ford Driving Skills for Life Program, we would like to congratulate the winning schools and thank the students for helping us reduce the number of teen fatalities,” said Jim Graham, Manager, Ford Driving Skills for Life Program. “We are also very proud to integrate our program with this very select group of schools.”
“Saving lives and preventing injuries among teen drivers is a priority for The Allstate Foundation, whose own signature program focuses on safe teen driving. We congratulate the winning schools and look forward to the results of their campaigns,” said Linda Moynihan, Regional Distribution Leader, Allstate Midwest Region. Allstate is a proud corporate sponsor and active partner of the Operation Teen Safe Driving initiative.
For a list of the selected schools, go to the program’s website at www.teensafedrivingillinois.org.