SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Transportation, the Ford Motor Company Fund, The Allstate Foundation, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and the Illinois State Police (ISP) today announced the seven winning schools from the 2012-13 Operation Teen Safe Driving (OTSD) program. OTSD began in 2007 and, since then, annual teen fatality numbers in automobile crashes have dropped by more than half in Illinois. The program includes the support of Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois State Board of Education and the national Governor’s Highway Safety Association.
“In 2007, the first year of OTSD, a total of 155 teens died in automobile crashes on Illinois roadways,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “In 2012, the provisional count shows that 71 teens died in Illinois crashes. We want to see that number at zero, but the 2012 experience is less than half the number we saw in 2007, and we think that is a huge step in the right direction. We will not be satisfied until we reach zero fatalities, and we believe this nationally recognized, peer-led program is an excellent tool to help us try to continue this positive trend.”
A total of 105 schools statewide were selected initially to participate in the innovative OTSD program, modeled after the Ford Motor Company Fund’s nationally recognized Ford Driving Skills for Life teen safety program. The sixth year of the statewide program kicked off in August 2012 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. “It is important to note that teen safe driving is a partnership effort, and no single program is the sole reason for improved numbers,” Schneider said. “OTSD and Ford Driving Skills for Life work hand in hand, and both are very effective. We also want to commend the Secretary of State for implementing the graduated license program for teens in Illinois, which has been another very effective tool in reducing teen driving deaths.”
“The Ford Motor Company Fund is very pleased to be returning for the sixth year as the lead partner of this important teen safe driving initiative,” said Jim Graham, Manager of Ford’s Driving Skills for Life Program. The issue of inexperience with newly licensed drivers is serious, and we are proud to provide a step in the learning process to help teens gain more experience on the roads.”
More than 35 schools have been invited 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 15-16 and in Springfield on April 18-19. 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 to $2,500 to host a post-prom event. “The Allstate Foundation is honored to continue to serve as a leading partner in this effort to educate Illinois teens about the value and importance of safe driving – and ultimately save lives,” said Bill McGrath, Allstate Insurance Regional Sales Leader. “As we approach prom season, graduation and summer vacation – the most deadly time for teen drivers – now is a perfect time to remind teens about the dangers of distracted driving and the safety responsibilities they take on every time they get behind the wheel.”
The Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing program championed by Secretary of State White, became law on January 1, 2008, and required additional behind the wheel driving experience for young drivers under the watchful eye of a parent or guardian. The graduated license law 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 overhaul Illinois’ graduated driver licensing (GDL) law in a manner that would save lives,” said Secretary of State White. “I am encouraged that teen driving deaths are down by over 50 percent since the law took effect January 1, 2008. Illinois’ comprehensive GDL program, 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 the schools that participated in this important program. Working together, we can save more lives and make Illinois roads safer for all of us.”
The winning schools in each region:
Region One: 1st place, Oak Forest; 2nd place, Tinley Park; 3rd place, Hillcrest HS; 4th place, Wells Academy; 5th place, Eisenhower HS
Region Two: 1st place, Plainfield East HS; 2nd place, Glenbard East HS; 3rd place, Momence HS; 4th place, HD Jacobs HS; 5th place, St. Anne HS
Region Three: 1st place, Sandwich HS; 2nd place, Riverdale HS; 3rd place, West Carroll HS; 4th place, Erie HS; 5th place, Henry-Senachwine HS
Region Four: 1st place, Quincy HS; 2nd place, Fieldcrest HS; 3rd place, ROWVA HS; 4th place, Triopia HS; 5th place, Beardstown HS
Region Five: 1st place, Casey Westfield; 2nd place, Arcola HS; 3rd place, Okaw Valley; 4th place, Pana HS; 5th place, Jamaica HS
Region Six: 1st place, Mater Dei Catholic; 2nd place, Valmeyer HS; 3rd place, Egyptian HS; 4th place, Murphysboro HS; 5th place, Carbondale HS
Region Seven: 1st place, Herrin HS; 2nd place NCOE HS; 3rd place, East Richland (Olney) HS; 4th place, Sparta HS; 5th place, Wayne City HS