Youth Driver Education Program Offered Nationwide
Bridgestone's Driver's Edge Aids Teens in Driving Skill
take part in a Driver's Edge program.
to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle
crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds
a fact Driver's Edge and Bridgestone/Firestone are
determined to change.
tire company partnered with Drivers Edge, a non-profit
youth driver-education program, in an effort to lower the number
of traffic accidents involving youths through hands-on driver
has shown that young drivers who receive the type of training
provided by Drivers Edge are better prepared to safely respond
to all sorts of driving conditions, said Mark A. Emkes,
Chairman, CEO and President of Bridgestone/Firestone North American
Tire, LLC. For this reason, driver education of this group
is extremely important. We are proud to be a part of this outstanding
program and this excellent opportunity to make a difference in
youth driving safety.
part of its nationwide 2003 Drive & Learn program, Bridgestone/Firestone
will be an official sponsor of Drivers Edge. The 2003 program
kicked off Feb. 8 in Phoenix and will be available in 10 other
cities this year.
Edge had phenomenal success and widespread support when it was
introduced in Las Vegas last year, said Emkes. Were
confident that it will continue to succeed as the program expands
throughout the United States.
Payne, a professional race-car driver and instructor, founded
the non-profit organization in 1999 and offered the first Drivers
Edge program in Las Vegas in 2002. After gaining the support of
local students, parents, teachers and public officials, Payne
wanted to expand the program to the rest of the country. Payne
approached Bridgestone/Firestone for support, since the company
has shown a strong interest in driver safety through its Drive
& Learn programs and tiresafety.com,
a Web site devoted to teaching consumers about tire safety and
Edge is the only program in the country of its kind, said
Payne. Comparable programs would cost about $450 per person,
but were able to offer Drivers Edge at no cost to
the students, thanks to the support of companies like Bridgestone/Firestone.
Many states have done away with behind-the-wheel driving instruction
in public schools, so theres a real need for this kind of
2001, more than 8,000 15- to 20-year-old drivers were involved
in fatal crashes. Although this age group makes up only nine percent
of the U.S. population, 15 percent of fatal crashes in 2000 involved
youths. Payne and others attribute these statistics to poor driver
are learning how to pass a test but not learning how to drive,
said Payne. Rather than pointing fingers after a teenager
dies in an accident, we should be teaching them how to drive better
in the first place.
2002, Drivers Edge reached 1,200 young drivers in Las Vegas,
and Payne expects the nationwide program to reach 6,000 students
in 2003. Before launching Drivers Edge, Payne spent five
years researching and planning its curriculum. The 4½-hour
program, which involves classroom and course instruction, teaches
students skills in evasive lane changes, anti-lock and panic braking
maneuvers, and skid control. In the classroom, students learn
about driving after a tire blowout or in icy conditions. On the
course, students are taught vehicle dynamics, load transfer and
driving in the rain. They are also able to identify and experience
the differences in front- and rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
the beginning of the program, students are given a test designed
to measure their driving knowledge. At the end of the program,
students are given a similar test to measure how much was learned.
On the average, students answer 33 percent of the questions correctly
the first time and 80 percent correctly the second time.
program is offered in two sessions per day, each with about 75
students. As reinforcement, parents are encouraged to observe
the sessions. As a follow-up to the program, Drivers Edge
sends a questionnaire to students six months after the course
has been completed. Students are asked if theyve had any
tickets or accidents since taking the class. The questionnaire
is then sent again after 12, 24 and 36 months.
addition to Bridgestone/Firestone, AAA and Sprint are co-sponsors
of the 2003 Drivers Edge program.
may register to attend one of the 11 events by calling 1-877-633-EDGE
(3343) or online at www.driversedge.org and www.bridgestonetire.com.
Drivers Edge program will be offered in conjunction with
Bridgestone/Firestone Drive & Learn events at the following
- March 8
Tenn. - May 10, 11
York - May 17
Md. - June 14
- July 18
Minn. - July 24
City - Aug. 16
Francisco Sept. 13
- Salt Lake City Oct. 4
dates subject to change. Refer to aforementioned Web sites for