Earlier this month, Ford commemorated the 15th anniversary of its award-winning safety program, Ford Driving Skills for Life, by awarding six individuals with the title of Unsung Heroes of Highway Safety. The Governors Highway Safety Association and Ford Motor Company Fund searched nationwide for the most committed traffic safety leaders. The top individuals attended a special gala at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.
This year’s honorees were Purnima Unni, Martha Tessmer, Sandy Spavone, Andy Pilgrim, Jacob Smith and John Shallenberger. Unni serves as creator/program manager of “Be in the Zone,” a teen driver safety program under the umbrella of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Franklin, Tennessee. Tessmer serves as the educational outreach coordinator for Impact Teen Driving in Fresno, California. Spavone is executive director for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America in Reston, Virginia. Pilgrim serves as the founder of Traffic Safety Education Foundation in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Smith works as a global road safety activist and speaker based out of Whitehouse, Texas. Shallenberger serves as deputy sheriff at Tazewell county Sherriff’s Office in Pekin, Illinois.
Jim Vella, president of Ford Motor Company Fund, commended the award-winners for their contributions to roadside safety by saying: “The six unsung heroes […] have dedicated themselves — personally and professionally — to making roads safer in their local communities and beyond. On behalf of everyone at Ford Motor Company, we thank each of our honorees for their important work.”
Ford Fund, the GHSA and a safety expert panel established Ford Driving Skills for Life in 2003. The purpose of the organization is to provide additional education for newly licensed drivers. Because driver’s education courses only cover the basics, new drivers benefit from an additional round of instruction to enhance their safe driving habits. The organization focuses on four main skills that are critical for reducing the majority of collisions: vehicle handling, space management, vehicle speed and hazard recognition.
We commend this year’s six honorees as Ford Driving Skills for Life continues to help new drivers boost their safety behind the wheel.
This article is presented by Rich Ford in Albuquerque, New Mexico.