Susan Scarola says she'll never forget how frightened she was when her daughter, now in her 30s, began to drive.
"As a parent, you truly feel the loss of control," says Scarola, vice chairman of DCH Auto Group, which operates 27 dealerships in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and California. "You literally can't put your arms around the child and protect them."
Those memories are one reason she is so committed to DCH's Teen Safe Driving Program. The program, launched in 2008, aims to reduce the number of auto accidents involving teenage drivers, the No. 1 cause of teen deaths in the United States.
DCH works closely with Students Against Destructive Decisions, a national organization that uses peer-to-peer communication to help prevent underage drinking, teen violence and suicide, and dangerous driving.
DCH supports SADD chapters in 30 high schools in the states where DCH has dealerships. It pays a stipend for a faculty adviser in each school where it supports a chapter, and pays for the adviser and two students to attend the annual SADD convention.
Scarola, 60, has visited each DCH dealership to make sure the general manager participates in the safe driving program -- from providing space for SADD meetings to holding car washes to raise money for local chapters.
"You can stand on a soapbox all day and say we are honest dealers," Scarola says. "But in this case the communities where we do business are noticing what we are doing with their teenagers."