TORRANCE, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 – Toyota is expanding its long-term commitment to safe teen driving with the introduction of an innovative national driver safety program, The Road Ahead
, in high schools throughout Southern California. The program will benefit more than 6,000 local students in an effort to save lives and promote road safety. The Road Ahead is an expansion of Toyota’s free, safe teen driving program, Toyota Driving Expectations
, which began in 2004 and has benefited more than 20,000 teens and parents.
Featuring Erica Enders, a nationally recognized race car driver and subject of the original Disney movie “Right on Track,” The Road Ahead kicks off its Southern California debut at selected high schools in the South Bay, Los Angeles and Orange County communities. Designed to educate and empower teens about road safety, the program engages students with high-impact video, live presentations and a distracted driving demonstration to teach them how to prepare, concentrate and observe the road ahead. During the simulated distracted driving experience, students will observe and understand the dangers associated with distractions behind the wheel. All programs are free and will take place during school hours.
"By bringing The Road Ahead to Southern California high schools, students will gain critical knowledge to help them become responsible drivers,” said Michael Rouse, Toyota’s vice president of diversity, philanthropy and community affairs. “With motor vehicle crashes remaining the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, it’s important for Toyota to expand upon Toyota Driving Expectations in order to impact even more young drivers.”
Enders is the first woman in history to qualify No.1 in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock Field and set a Guinness World Record. Sharing the inspiring story of realizing her dream, she also understands first-hand the importance of safe driving as she reaches speeds of more than 200 miles per hour when racing on the closed NHRA Pro Stock.
“Promoting safe driving early on is essential to help develop responsible habits behind the wheel as an adult,” Enders said. “I’m excited to support this program and help students understand the importance of road safety.”
In addition to The Road Ahead program in high schools, Toyota will once again offer Southern California teens and parents the free, behind-the-wheel defensive driving program, On the Road, in spring 2013. The 2.5-hour course supplements standard driving education courses with real-time opportunities to learn about defensive driving, the impact of distractions and safe habits. The program involves both driving time and classroom discussions, and is unique for requiring the participation of a parent or guardian to support coaching within the family. Interested participants may sign up to be alerted about registration for the Southern California program at www.toyotadrivingexpectations.com
Additional opportunities to learn safe driving techniques are available at select Toyota dealerships and on the web at www.toyotateendriver.com
. In spring 2013, Toyota will offer free safety clinics at select Toyota dealerships covering vehicle dynamics and safety features, defensive driving, distracted driving and the importance of vehicle maintenance. The program offers parents and teens an opportunity to learn safe driving tips from professional instructors in a non-sales environment inside their local Toyota dealerships. The online Toyota Teen Driver program offers teens, parents and educators across the country access to free information and resources at www.toyotateendriver.com
. Created in partnership with Discovery Education, the program also includes the Toyota Teen Driver Video Challenge and Educator Challenge, which offers teachers and students the opportunity to win prizes and scholarships by showing a commitment to safety.
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Toyota (NYSE: TM) established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants. Toyota directly employs over 30,000 in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design.
Toyota is committed to being a good corporate citizen in the communities where it does business and believes in supporting programs with long-term sustainable results. Toyota supports numerous organizations across the country, focusing on education, the environment and safety. Since 1991, Toyota has contributed over half a billion dollars to philanthropic programs in the U.S.
For more information on Toyota's commitment to improving communities nationwide, visit www.toyota.com/philanthropy