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October 11, 2012

Ford Celebrates the Power of Youth

Kat_GrahamWhat do rising stars Kat Graham (Vampire Diaries), Diego Boneta (Rock of Ages) and Joe Jonas have in common?

They were among the young celebrities helping Ford demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving at the recent Variety Power of Youth event, held at Paramount Studios, Hollywood.

Ford is one of several automakers that sponsor teen driver education programs, and came on board as a sponsor of the event.

"We are excited to take part in an event that recognizes the commitment of young people to making a positive difference,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services. “This is also a great opportunity for Ford to help elevate the conversation around teen driving safety."

Joe_JonasThey did this with a number of demonstrations, which included donning a pair of "fatal vision goggles" (which simulate the feeling of being under the influence), and being instructed to walk a straight line -- which showed the young people in attendance just how difficult (and dangerous!) that can be.

Ford also demonstrated its MyKey technology, which, in the words of its Ford Safety Planning Manager Andy Sarkisian, "puts mom and dad virtually into the passenger seat, to help our young teen drivers as they graduate from their supervised driving to independent driving, to have mom and dad virtually remind them 'buckle up, watch your speed, and 'turn down that radio.'"

MyKey, which is standard on nearly all Ford vehicles, is an electronically enhanced keyfob that interacts with the vehicle's SYNC system, enabling parents to program in speed and audio volume limits as well as cues that signal the driver if any of the passengers' seat belts are unfastened.

But the highlight of Ford's presence at the Power of Youth was a compact driving course where teens were invited to hop into a new CMAX Hybrid and see exactly how dangerous it is to text and drive. I had my own teenage daughter give it a whirl, as you can see in this video:

With road trauma listed as THE leading cause of death for teens, the more training we can get for our teen drivers, the better. Ford is helping lead the way with its Driving Skills for Life program. Events for 2013 have not been announced, but interested parents may sign up on its website for scheduling information. While you're there, be sure to check out all the other online safety tools, information and exercises for students, parents and educators.

Donna Schwartz Mills


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