Jim O’Donnell, President of BMW of North America, LLC launched the company’s “DRIVE IT HOME – DON’T TXT & DRIVE” campaign today with the help of Evans Scholars, local teens and automotive partners including Group 1 Automotive, and the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana BMW Centers at a special Teen Driving School to kick off the BMW Championship at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.
PGA Tour player, Brian Gay, also attended the event to speak about the importance of road safety. All proceeds from the driving event benefits the Evans Scholars Foundation, which provides full university tuition and housing grants to deserving young caddies.
O’Donnell, a staunch advocate against behaviors associated with distracted driving commented, “Being a good corporate citizen is a BMW core value and we are particularly committed to promoting safe driving through eliminating driver distractions.”
Additionally, he said, “Road safety goes to the heart of the company’s DNA and we advocate not only the safety of our own customers, but the safety of everyone on the road. Our teen driving school and “DRIVE IT HOME – DON’T TXT & DRIVE campaign give us the opportunity to invest in our children, raising awareness about the risks of driving and helping them to develop lifelong safety habits.”
Earl Hesterberg, President and CEO, Group 1 Automotive, which owns 15 BMW and MINI dealerships throughout the U.S., was pleased to team up with BMW to promote the early education of young drivers.
“We are excited to partner with BMW to sponsor its Teen Driving School coinciding with the BMW Championship,” commented Hesterberg. “Driver awareness and safety for teens have never been more important given the many distractions confronting young drivers today –such as texting while driving. We are proud to support BMW in its efforts to help keep teen drivers safe.”
BMW’s “DRIVE IT HOME – DON’T TXT & DRIVE” campaign is an important addition to the teen driving school program. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 87 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. At the teen driving school, students learn this behavior is one of the most dangerous actions a person can do behind the wheel.
Dan Gubitosa, Director, BMW Performance Center noted, “Our driving instructors teach that it’s vital to remain focused on the road ahead and be aware of one’s surroundings. If you are on the cell phone or texting while driving, you are not able to anticipate or react intelligently to hazardous situations. Our new campaign on distracted driving creates awareness about the consequences of this action affecting not only teens but everyone who drives a vehicle.”
The BMW Teen Driving School is a grassroots initiative under the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility program combining teens, road safety and local community outreach. It is a recent extension of the teen curriculum offered at the BMW Performance Center located in Spartanburg, SC. Students improve their driving skills and increase their road knowledge through classroom instruction, driver awareness activities and hands-on driving exercises.
Since BMW became a presenting sponsor of the BMW Championship in 2007, the BMW Championship has raised a total of $7.3 million for the Evans Scholars Foundation. BMW also offers a summer internship program that invites the scholars to work for BMW, offering them invaluable insight into their future careers after graduation. At the 2010 BMW Championship, BMW will also continue its tradition of pledging a four-year Evans Scholarship in honor of the first player who scores a hole-in-one during the tournament.