September Storm/La Prensa Hispana

In 2005 and 2006, according to the now available National Highway Traffic Statistics, California led the entire nation in teen traffic deaths. This is hardly a statistic California needs to be proud of but it is a statistic Californians’ need to address. California had 560 teen deaths in 2006 followed by Texas with 457 and Florida with 391. Twenty eight other states did not reach 100 and Alaska, District of Columbia and Rhode Island stayed well below 10.

In a serious attempt to address this serious safety issue, Ford along with state and communities implemented a National award-winning auto safety program reaching out to hundreds of thousands of teens annually in the United States and global markets. The aim of the program goes beyond driver education courses. By working with communities, Jim Vella, president of Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services states, “Ford believes companies, governments and communities can work together to save young lives on our roads. One key element of Driving Skills for Life is teens reaching out to teens because they have the biggest influence with their peers. We also work with public safety officials, parents and educators in numerous states and cities to help improve their teen driving safety efforts.”

Established in 2003, Driving Skills for Life is the nation’s most comprehensive teen driver safety program. Ford representatives have been working with Coachella Valley community leaders for several weeks seeking to pass the word. As of Wednesday, the first day of the event, several dozen teens were seen taking advantage of the driving skills course in Indio. The event has four primary courses and prepares teens for; Hazard Recognition/Accident Avoidance, Vehicle Handling/Skid Control, and Speed & Space Management.

How much is a life worth? According to one teen at the event, “If only one life is saved through this Ford Skills Course, it will have been worth the effort.” For additional information, check their web-site at: www.drivingskillsforlife.com

(Photos by Ben Saiz)