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  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds; parents can help ensure their teens have the skills – and technology – to more safely take the wheel before heading out on prom night
  • The Ford Driving Skills for Life website,, offers a variety of tips on improving driving skills in four key areas that are estimated to lead to 60 percent of teen accidents
  • Prom night is a special night for teens – with a little forethought and a few frank discussions, parents won’t be so anxious as their kids spend an evening out on the town


Prom is a big night for teenagers, filled with glitter, glitz and high expectations. For parents, though, it can be a long evening fraught with nail-biting and worry that won’t end until their teen returns home safely. Their worry has merit – in 2008, approximately 5,800 15- to 20-year-old drivers were involved in fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, the agency reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds.

But parents can coach their teens on safe driving, make sure they know that drinking and driving is illegal, and find other ways to help them become more confident behind the wheel. The comprehensive Ford Driving Skills for Life website,, is chock-full of car care and driving safety tips for both teens and parents.


The numbers show that the severity of a crash increases when alcohol is involved. In 2008, 22 percent of 15- to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

Texting while driving is another area of concern. Ford research shows that teens do not have the experience that allows them to self-limit tasks while driving. NHTSA estimates that distracted driving, including the use of nomadic electronic devices, may be involved in some capacity in up to 80 percent of road collisions.

For so many teens, prom night isn’t a time to dwell on safety. It means fancy dresses, smart tuxes, and an exciting night out. But parents know that anytime is a good time to offer their young driver guidelines for the road:

  • Buckle up! Remind your teenager again and again how important that single little click can be. Statistics show that seat belt usage is lowest among teenagers, even though seat belts continue to be proven as the No. 1 life-saving device in accidents.
  • Don’t drink and drive. You may assume your teen knows this, but it’s worth a sit-down talk. Make sure your teen knows the dangers of driving under the influence – or getting into a vehicle with someone who’s been drinking.
  • No text zone. Remind your teen driver to avoid distractions such as texting, loud music and any activities that take their eyes away from the road for extended periods of time. Research shows this combination significantly increases the risk of accidents.
  • Take a drive. Is your son or daughter taking the car that night? Drive the route with him or her; make sure they know exactly where they’re going and limit the number of passengers who will be in the car at all times.
  • Renting a limo? Check the safety record of the limo company. Make sure the company you (or the kids) are renting from has a reputable history.
  • Set a check-in time and curfew. Have the couple call you when the dance is over, or when they’re changing venues, so you know where they are at all times. Set a curfew. Make sure your teens know when you expect them home, and make sure they know it’s not debatable.

Technology that can help
Ford offers a variety of technologies in its vehicles that can help make prom night more enjoyable and less stressful:

More safety stars: Ford has earned more five-star government crash test safety ratings than any other automaker. For example, the iconic Mustang is a favorite prom ride, and among those vehicles with full five-star safety ratings.

Eyes on the road: The Ford SYNC® voice-controlled communications and infotainment system allows for hands-free calling, turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic updates. A recent study showed the system significantly reduced the time it took drivers to complete tasks with their eyes off the road when selecting a phone number or choosing a song on their MP3 player, compared with the same operations with hand-held cell phones and music players.

MyKey™: MyKey allows parents to limit speed and audio volume in their vehicles and is designed to help parents encourage safe driving habits in their teens. The system comes equipped with a persistent Ford Belt-Minder® with audio mute. The Belt-Minder system typically provides a six-second reminder chime every minute for five minutes. With MyKey, the Belt-Minder chime continues at the regular interval and the audio system is muted until the seat belt is buckled. A message center display, “Buckle Up to Unmute Radio,” also appears on the instrument cluster. The feature will be offered on more than 20 models, including the new Mustang, by the end of 2010.

Radar technology: Vehicles such as the 2010 Ford Taurus offer Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support, an available radar-based system that can help alert drivers of potential rear-end collisions with slowing cars by flashing a red warning light across the windshield and sounding an audible alert. If the driver doesn’t react in time, the system pre-charges the brakes and increases brake-assist sensitivity.

Active Park Assist: Forget those parking worries; one of the newest Ford technologies makes parallel parking a breeze. The Active Park Assist system, available on vehicles such as the 2010 Lincoln MKT crossover and the 2010 Ford Escape, uses sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle to guide it into a parking space. The technology is a major leap forward in speed and ease of use compared to the camera-reliant systems used by competitors. The Ford system requires less driver interface and reduces the risk of choosing a parking space that is too tight. Active Park Assist also works in downhill parking situations.

About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 176,000 employees and about 80 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and, until its sale, Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit

April 27, 2010

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