October 3, 2008 - Dallas, TX - The multi-tasking life of today's teens – complicated by cell phones, texting, MP3 players and everything in between – makes getting behind the wheel a distracting proposition, and Dallas County has taken note. In an effort to promote driving safety, communities in Dallas County have issued a ban on the use of hand-held communication devices while driving within school zones. To support this measure and better prepare teen drivers, Toyota is hosting its hands-on teen and parent advanced driving skills program, "Toyota Driving Expectations," in Grand Prairie, Tex. at the Lone Star Park, November 7-9 and 14-16.
With teenage drivers involved in fatal traffic accidents at more than twice the rate of the rest of the U.S. population, Toyota's free of charge program goes beyond what is taught in the typical driver's training class by putting teens behind the wheel to face challenging, real-world scenarios. It is also one of the only programs of its kind that requires teens to attend with a parent or guardian so they can learn safe driving habits together. In Grand Prairie, 28 program sessions will be held—two four-hour sessions on Friday, November 7 and 14 between 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. and six four-hour sessions on both Saturday and Sunday, November 8-9 and November 15-16 between 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. Registration is now open online at www.toyotadrivingexpectations.com.
"Safety is a priority for Toyota, and we are dedicated to supporting both teens and parents in developing responsible driving habits and protecting them on the road," said Michael Rouse, Toyota's vice president of philanthropy and community affairs. "Our goal with Toyota Driving Expectations is to prepare teens with the critical skills and knowledge to handle real-world driving situations and to give parents some guidelines to be an effective coach and mentor."
Each four-hour Toyota Driving Expectations program begins with an opening session for all participants where they are introduced to the privilege and risk associated with driving. Combining both hands-on and interactive learning through driving courses and classroom style sessions, the program's curriculum includes tailored content on a variety of driving-related topics.
While driving on the courses under the supervision of professional drivers, teens practice ways to best keep their eyes on the road, learn how to engage anti-lock braking systems on both wet and dry roads and demonstrate how everyday distractions, to which new drivers are especially prone, can have unexpected, dangerous effects. Both parents and teens also drive an actual "distraction course" while navigating through potential distractions such as talking and texting on a cell phone, drinking water and listening to loud music, to experience firsthand how hazardous these activities are behind the wheel.
At the end of the program, to reinforce what they learned, teens and parents develop a safe driving contract together to maintain an open dialogue about responsible driving habits at home.
Since the program's debut in 2004, the National Safety Council, a leading resource on strategies for advancing safety and health programs, has been involved with Toyota Driving Expectations. The program includes elements of the Council's signature driving programs, including Alive at 25 and Family Guide to Teen Drivers.
Toyota (NYSE: TM) established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants, with another under construction in Mississippi. 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. Through its corporate initiatives, manufacturing operations and philanthropy, Toyota supports numerous organizations across the country, focusing on education, the environment and safety. In 2007, Toyota contributed more than $56 million to philanthropic programs in the U.S. For more information on Toyota's commitment to improving communities nationwide, visit http://www.toyota.com/community.
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