BILLINGS – The number one cause of death for teens ages 16-19 in America is car crashes, and over the weekend the Ford Driving Skills for Life program made a stop in Billings with a goal to reduce those numbers.
Ford Driving Skills for Life is a program that’s been traveling across the world for 16 years spreading the message of safety.
Teens with their permit or licence can enroll in the free program that offers much more then you’re average drivers education class.
“We don’t focus on rules of the road,” said Jim Graham the programs global manager. “We focus on four major areas that tend to be the cause of most fatal crashes. Those are issues around speed management, space management, vehicle handling, and recognizing hazards. It’s all about making better decisions.”
During the program, teens drive through four courses with 15 professional driving instructors.The courses are designed to make you loose control of the car.
In the vehicle handling course, teens drive a 2019 Mustang that spins out on purpose. The car is equipped with casters on the rear wheels, and if you crank the wheel above fifteen miles per hour, it will cause you to spin out.
“We let them spin out once or twice to feel what it’s like,” Graham said. “We’ll teach them how to control that. Actually it’s very beneficial. Because when you’re going down the road later the back end may get loose a bit, but they’ll automatically know what to do.”
For recognizing hazards, teens drive a car around a loop while texting to help them understand how hard it is to negotiate obstacles while distracted.
Another course focuses on high speed lane changes, and high speed stops.
Driving instructor Todd Wittman said the goal is to ingrain good habits into new drivers.
“Instead of just freezing up in a situation hopefully by doing some of these things they’re going to know how to react the right way,” Wittman said.
If you would like to learn more about safe driving visit the Ford Driving Skills for Life website.
Reporting by Mitch Lagge for MTN News