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Ford adds cyclist safety to program

Safety first: Amy Gillett Foundation CEO Phoebe Dunn (left) and Ford Australia and New Zealand CEO Kay Hart at the launch of the 2018 Driving Skills for Life program.

Renewed focus on cyclist safety in Ford’s Driving Skills for Life 2018 program

Ford logo20 Sep 2018

FORD Australia has tweaked its Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program with a fresh focus on bicycle safety, while expanding it to new locations across the country for 2018.
 
Now in its fourth year in Australia, the program aims to help young people develop safer driving habits with a goal of reducing the high rates of death among younger road users.
 
This year, Ford has partnered with the Amy Gillett Foundation, one of the country’s leading cycling safety organisations that was set up after Ms Gillett who was killed by a driver in Germany while cycling with the Australian women’s cycling team in 2015.
 
The 2018 DSFL program looks at methods to improve road safety, but also highlights ways to reduce tensions and focus on how to better share the road.
 
Ford Australia and New Zealand CEO Kay Hart said the company hoped people would change some of their driving behaviours as a result of the program.
 
“We are very happy to be bringing back such a value-rich program, helping young and new drivers across Australia gain driving skills for life,” she said.
 
“Year on year, we are continuing to find a strong need for new and young drivers to take part in hands-on training to help give them skills to stay safe on the road. This program aims to shift the dial on people’s behaviour when driving and reduce the severity of unintended negative consequences.”
 
Ford decided to emphasise cyclist education in this year’s program after seeing the results of its Road Safety Survey of nearly 2000 Australians that showed 49 per cent of respondents do not feel confident driving alongside cyclists.
 
The survey also showed that 18 per cent of respondents admitted to road rage or being actively aggressive towards cyclists.
 
It identified “a lack of driving experience, lack of awareness of cyclists and careless driving” as key factors in crashes, serious injuries and fatalities and found that a third of respondents felt they were not adequately trained to share the road with cyclists.
 
Ford says that in the past year, there has been an 80 per cent increase in cyclist deaths on Australian roads.
 
Amy Gillett Foundation CEO Phoebe Dunn highlighted the need to better driver education relating to cyclists.
 
“When we choose active transport, we are at our most vulnerable on the roads,” she said. “Yet there is little to no content in driver training and licensing programs around Australia on how to share the road safely with cyclists. Drivers are simply not being given the skills they need to safely share the roads.
 
“Education and training are vital components of achieving behaviour change and making the roads a safer place for all road users. We are looking forward to working with the team at Ford to do just that, and we commend them for their efforts to include vulnerable road users in new driver training.”
 
The program includes a mix of virtual reality and hands-on cycling simulations, as well as experiencing ABS and stability control in some Ford vehicles. It also includes the Ford Impairment Suit which mimics the effects of alcohol.
 
This year’s program will visit six locations around Australia, including Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne, Ballarat, Brisbane and Toowoomba, between late September and early December.
 
It is free for anyone to attend but the numbers are limited in each location, so anyone interested should check the DSFL website.
 
The Ford DSFL program is funded by Ford’s philanthropic arm based at its Detroit headquarters. It has been rolled out in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific.

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