The 2011 Ford Driving Skills for Life “Belt it Out” contest featured several groups of talented young people with an important message about this year’s theme: Distracted driving. The winners, five teens from Germantown High School in Tennessee, each received a $5,000 U.S. savings bond and a free trip to Usher’s New Look Foundation World Leadership Conference.
Videos were submitted by teens that performed original songs about the distracted driving topic. More than 520,000 people voted to select the top five finalists. First-, second- and third-place winners were chosen by Shawn Wilson, President of Usher’s New Look Foundation (UNLF), an organization spearheaded by award-winning musician Usher. Not only did the first-place winners get to attend a major UNLF conference in Atlanta, but they were also invited to join Usher and country music celebrity John Rich at a July 20, 2011 workshop about inspiring social change through music.
Ford Driving Skills for Life is a comprehensive teen driver safety program developed by Ford in 2003. The group focuses on driver distraction, speed and space management, hazard recognition and vehicle handling. Unfortunately, these four issues are to blame for more than 60 percent of teen motor vehicle accidents. According to U.S. government statistics, about 3,000 teens, ages 15 to 19, suffer fatal injuries on American roads every year.
With hands-on driving clinics, community events and an interactive website, Driving Skills for Life offers teens the right tools to make good decisions. Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services President Jim Vella states, “Ford is passionate about helping young drivers, which helps keep the roads safer for all of us. We are proud to partner with Usher’s New Look Foundation on the ‘Belt it Out’ contest.”
The second-place contest winner received a $3,000 savings bond while the third-place contestants both won a $1,000 savings bond. This year, Ford invested an additional $1 million to expand its Driving Skills for Life program, and has plans to bring a free driving skills clinic to high schools in 15 states. With help from the Governors Highway Safety Association, the clinic promises to be an innovative and valuable project benefiting American teens and their families.
Check out the winning videos online at www.drivingskillsforlife.com where you can also learn about eco-driving, car care and winter driving tips. Parents will appreciate the website’s toolkit and coaching guide, and educators will find resources on the site tailored for their purposes including a link to embed the Driving Skills for Life online training module directly into their websites.