Ford and singer-actress Kate Voegele ask teens to "Belt it Out"
Ford, together with with Kate Voegele of TV's "One Tree Hill", have introduced the "Belt it Out" song-writing competition to encourage teens to create music that promotes safe driving behavior.
The effort is part of Ford Motor Company Fund's nationwide Ford Driving Skills for Life (FDSFL) teen-safe driving program developed with the Governor Highway Safety Association. Ford recently became the first automaker to support national legislation to ban hand-held texting while driving
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 21, 2009 - Kate Voegele, recording artist of new hit song "99 Times", is asking teens to write their own special songs that send a message about the importance of safe driving behavior. Vehicle crashes remain the No. 1 killer of teens in America, with teens accounting for three times as many fatal accidents as other drivers.
The nationwide "Belt it Out" promotion, began Oct. 23 2009 at www.DrivingSkillsforLife.com - where soloists or small bands can send songs that incorporate Ford Driving Skills for Life (FDSFL) - the company's nationwide, award-winning teen safe-driving program.
In spring 2010, the public and Voegele will select the teen with the most creative and effective song submission for a top prize of savings bonds up to $5,000.
"Music is such a great outlet and this gives teens a chance to create their own music about something important in their lives," Voegele said. "I am doing this to encourage people my age to stay focused on their future and to understand the importance of their own driving behaviors. They need to learn to avoid driving distractions such as hand-held texting. Maybe music can help them remember that."
Reducing driving distractions
The kickoff for the new promotion comes during National Teen Safe Driving Week Oct. 18-24. It also launches in a time of heightened awareness of the danger of driver distractions such as hand held texting and manual cell phone dialing. Research shows teens are much more willing to take risks while driving, such as manually dialing on a mobile phone in situations that demand greater attention to the road.
"Teens listen to their friends and music more than anything else, which is why we are combining the two so our youngsters can help stop their friends from hand-held texting while driving," said Jim Graham, community relations manager of Ford Motor Company Fund.
The promotion is part of the Ford Motor Company Fund's Ford Driving Skills for Life (FDSFL) program developed in 2003 in partnership with the Governors Highway Safety Association. The FDSFL program has long encouraged high school students to create safe driving promotions targeting peers, primarily through public service announcements and school campaigns. A complimentary online educational website at www.DrivingSkillsForLife.com draws hundreds of thousands of additional teens, parents and educators annually.
FDSFL also conducts a series of nationwide events focused on advanced, hands-on training by some of the nation's top professional instructors.
The program is centered on Ford research that identified the lack of key skills - speed management, space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition - that lead to 60 percent of vehicle crashes for newly licensed drivers, ages 16 to 19 years old. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in America, claiming nearly 5,000 lives each year.
"Every week is teen safety week at Ford - our nationwide Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches kids of the dangers of driving distractions, and new technologies such as MyKey and SYNC can help parents encourage their teens to drive safer," said Graham.
Research on driving solutions
Ford recently became the first automaker to announce support for national legislation banning hand held texting while driving. According to a NHTSA-sponsored 100-car study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, driver inattention that involves looking away from the road for more than a few seconds may be a factor in nearly 80 percent of accidents.
"A growing number of drivers are using handheld wireless communications and music-playing devices while driving," said Dr. Louis Tijerina, Ford senior technical specialist. "Research clearly shows that manual operation of those devices that takes the driver's eyes from the road for an extended period of time creates the kind of distraction that causes accidents."
Ford developed the Virtual Test Track Experiment (VIRTTEX), a state-of-the-art simulator that monitors and analyzes a variety of driving behaviors. Since VIRTTEX opened in 2001, Ford has completed a number of driver distraction studies that have contributed to the development of Ford's Driving Skills for Life teen driving education program, the MyKeyTM programmable teen-safety feature and SYNC® hands-free communication technology.