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Vehicle Safety and Driver Assist Technologies

Encouraging Safer Driving

Driver behavior is a key contributing factor in many vehicle crashes.1 We at Ford have developed and support an array of programs and technologies that help to encourage safer behavior on the roadways, for both experienced and novice drivers.

Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL), our flagship, free, driver-education program, also demonstrates our commitment to help new drivers to improve their motoring skills. Ford DSFL was established in 2003 by Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, in partnership with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and a panel of experts, to teach newly licensed teen drivers skills for safe driving – beyond what they learn in standard driver education programs. The Ford DSFL website includes an array of free resources for novice drivers, including an interactive Web-based training called The Academy.

In the U.S., Ford DSFL has been focusing on teen drivers through five signature programs:

  • The Ford DSFL National Tour: In 2013 the Ford DSFL National Tour reached out to more teens, parents and educators than ever before. This included nearly 30 days of hands-on training throughout the United States. During these visits, teens are invited to hands-on driving clinics utilizing specially equipped vehicles. The clinics offer multifaceted activities that build skills in four key areas: driver distraction, speed/space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition. In 2014, the Ford DFSL tour will travel to more than 20 cities in the U.S. and Europe.
  • Taking the Lead: Our Taking the Lead program – co-sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, Westfield Insurance, the GHSA and Allegheny County Pretrial Services – brings a one-hour presentation on safe driving to high school assemblies. The assemblies include a question-and-answer segment with a panel of experts.
  • Operation Teen Safe Driving: Operation Teen Safe Driving is sponsored in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Secretary of State and the state police. The program gets Illinois high school students directly involved in safe driving behaviors by challenging them to develop and implement teen safe driving community-awareness campaigns using Ford DSFL resources. Since the program’s launch in 2007, teen vehicle crash deaths in Illinois have decreased 55 percent.
  • Strive 4 a Safer Drive (S4SD): Launched in 2011, Strive 4 a Safer Drive provides funding to Michigan schools to assist in creating peer-to-peer traffic safety campaigns. The campaigns seek to educate classmates and the community about teen safe driving through various activities. Modeled after Operation Teen Safe Driving, S4SD is sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and AAA Michigan.
  • Be in the Zone: The Be in the Zone program focuses on improving teen driver safety among rural youth in Tennessee through peer-generated anti-texting campaigns. Be in the Zone was launched in partnership with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in 2011.

In our Asia Pacific markets, Ford DSFL is aimed at novice drivers of all ages. In this region the program places equal emphasis on safe driving and eco-driving, as customers are interested in both. Approximately 14,000 drivers in this region were trained in 2013. In 2014, we will continue the program in mainland China, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as expand to Malaysia and Myanmar, to train another 15,000 people. More than 77,000 people have been trained in the Asia Pacific region since the program began. (See the Pete Hardigan voice for more about Ford DSFL in Asia Pacific.)

In late 2013, we launched Ford DSFL for the first time in Europe. Ford will invest €1.5 million in the first year of this program alone to provide free, hands-on training to 5,000 young drivers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K., and to thousands more online through The Academy. In 2014, Ford DSFL will be launched in several additional European countries.

In total, Ford DSFL is training drivers to be safer in 16 countries around the globe and plans to grow to 23 before 2015.

On the technology side, the Ford MyKey® system is an innovative technology designed to help parents encourage their teenagers to drive more safely. MyKey is now in more than 6 million Ford and Lincoln vehicles on the road in the U.S. MyKey allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed to one of several preset values and also can invoke SYNC’s Do Not Disturb feature, which sends incoming phone calls and text messages to the paired phone’s mailbox. MyKey encourages safety belt usage by enabling Ford’s Belt-Minder® to chime every minute indefinitely until both of the front passengers are buckled in, rather than ceasing after five minutes, and also through a “no belt/no tunes” feature that mutes the audio system until the belt is buckled. In addition, MyKey provides a low-fuel warning earlier than the standard vehicle setting; sounds speed-alert chimes; and will not allow manual override of other safety systems. MyKey is available on nearly all Ford Motor Company retail vehicles in North America, and its availability is expanding to other regions.

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey: Report to Congress (Washington, DC: U.S. DOT, July 2008).