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April 7, 2009


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Marisa Kollias - 312-814-4693
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IDOT Secretary Announces Significant Decline In Teen Driving Fatalities

Winners Selected for the Operation Teen Safe Driving
Program and Janet Kelley Scholarship

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Transportation Acting Secretary Gary Hannig, Secretary of State Jesse White, the Governors Highway Safety Association, Illinois State Police (ISP), Ford Motor Company Fund, The Allstate Foundation, and supporters of Operation Teen Safe Driving today announced the final round of winning schools to participate in the statewide safety initiative designed to educate teens about safe driving in order to save lives. The recipients of the Janet Kelley Teen Safe Driving Scholarship were also announced today. These announcements come as Illinois records a decline in teen fatalities in automobile crashes this year. From January 1st through March 15, 2009, 16 teens (ages 16-19) lost their lives on Illinois roadways. During the same time period last year, there were 20 teen deaths.

In total, 106 high schools statewide were initially selected to participate in the innovative program, modeled after Ford Motor Company Fund’s nationally recognized Ford Driving Skills for Life teen safety program. The second year of the statewide program was announced in August 2008 empowering high school students to educate their peers about driving in hopes of decreasing the number of fatalities and crashes involving teenagers in Illinois.

To recognize outstanding high school seniors for their individual contributions, seven college-bound seniors (one from each region) were awarded the Janet Kelley Teen Safe Driving Scholarship. Janet Kelley, a Springfield emergency room nurse, spent years dedicated to working with teenagers to make them think twice about careless driving practices. Kelley’s life was cut short last year, but her memory will live on through this scholarship. The winners were selected from a pool of applications submitted by participating 2009 Operation Teen Safe Driving (OTSD) high schools. The top winning student received a $3,500 one-year scholarship and six additional students were each awarded a one-year scholarship of $2,500 to be sent to the recipient’s chosen college/university.

Additional teen safe driving initiatives include the teen driver safety law initiated by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White making Illinois’ graduated driver licensing program one of the best in the nation. Made effective January 1, 2008, the law gives teens more time to obtain valuable driving experience while under the watchful eye of a parent or guardian, limits in-car distractions, and requires the teens to earn their way from one stage to the next by avoiding traffic convictions. Leading national traffic safety experts have lauded the law as one that will save lives.

Another important law initiated by Secretary White took effect January 1, 2008 and doubled the practice time that young drivers must spend with a parent or guardian before the teen can obtain an Illinois driver’s license time from 25 to 50 hours. Of these 50 hours, at least 10 must be done at night. The additional hours give novice teen drivers more driving experience while in the presence of a parent or guardian and to better prepare the teen for a lifetime of safe and responsible driving.

“The improved graduated driver licensing (GDL) law that resulted from the recommendations of the Teen Driver Safety Task Force makes Illinois' teen driver program one of the strongest in the nation and, more importantly, is saving lives,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “I am encouraged that teen driving deaths have dropped by over 40 percent in the first full year of the law. This law, in conjunction with the Operation Teen Safe Driving initiative, is having the intended impact on teen driving safety. My congratulations to the winners as well as to all schools that participated in this important program. Working together, we can save more lives and make Illinois roads safer for all of us.”

Twenty one high schools have been selected to participate in Ford Motor Company Fund’s sponsored “Ride and Drive” safe-driving clinic. These clinics will be taking place in the Chicago area and central Illinois in the coming weeks. The “Ride and Drive” events will feature professional drivers giving young drivers rigorous behind the wheel driving exercises, including: Hazard Recognition/Accident Avoidance, Vehicle Handling/Skid Control and Speed/Space Management.

“We are very impressed by our high school students, whose efforts are helping make our roadways safer,” said Acting IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig. “Operation Teen Safe Driving has been a very successful initiative, and we are proud to lead the way as the first state to offer a program of this magnitude.”

“The Illinois State Police are honored to have partnered in this innovative safety program in an effort to save the lives of teen drivers,” said Acting Illinois State Police Director Jonathon Monken. “Operation Teen Safe Driving provides an opportunity for young drivers to use their creativity and energetic abilities to increase awareness and safety on Illinois roadways.”

In addition to the top high schools in each region receiving an invitation to attend the Ford Driving Skills for Life “Ride and Drive” hands-on training, The Allstate Foundation has made it possible for the top school in each region to receive $2,000 for an after-prom party. In addition, the first, second and third place winners from each region will receive $1,750, $1,500 and $1,000 respectively for continuing their Operation Teen Safe Driving program in their community.

“We are greatly pleased to continue our commitment to this important teen safe driving initiative,” said Jim Graham, Manager of Community Relations Ford Fund and Community Services. “The Ford Motor Company is deeply committed to the safety of all drivers including teenagers. As evidenced by the lower fatalities in teens in Illinois, we believe this successful program is making a difference on the roads in Illinois and beyond.”

“The Allstate Foundation is tremendously proud to continue to serve as a leading partner in the combined effort to save teen lives on Illinois roadways,” said Linda Moynihan, Allstate Insurance Regional Sales Leader and mother of teenage drivers. “With high school prom and graduation celebrations happening all over the state in the next month, it’s a critical time to make teens and their parents aware of the safety responsibilities young drivers assume every time they get behind the wheel.”

The Office of the Governor, the Illinois Secretary of State, IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois State Board of Education, in partnership with the Ford Motor Company Fund and The Allstate Foundation are all supporting the Operation Teen Safe Driving program. Also supporting the Illinois campaign are the Governors Highway Safety Association and SADD (“Students Against Destructive Decisions”).

The top school in each region is as followed:

Region 1: De La Salle Institute
Region 2: Alan B. Shepard High School
Region 3: Gardner- South Wilmington High School
Region 4: Clifton Central High School
Region 5: Roanoke- Benson High School
Region 6: Hillside Bethel Christian School
Region 7: Gillespie High School

Winners of the Janet Kelley Teen Safe Driving Scholarship in each region are as follows:

Region 1: Yvette Temple, Williams High
Region 2: Laura Richardella, Dwight D. Eisenhower High School
Region 3: Deanna Ptak, Bolingbrook High School
Region 4: Erica Salamone, Pecatonica High School
Region 5: Laura Hess, Morton High School
Region 6: Mackenzie Davis, Quincy Senior High School
Region 7: Tyler Sandretto, Gillespie High School, *Top Winning Student Overall*

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