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Ford launches safe driver program

Catch: Ford Driving Skills For Life participants can see what it is like to be impaired by alcohol by wearing a set of accessories that imitates the feeling of drunkenness.

Driving Skills For Life program teaches young drivers keys to safe driving

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Ford logo14 Nov 2016

By ROBBIE WALLIS

FORD Australia has launched a program aimed at ensuring young drivers develop better defensive driving habits to help combat the high rate of road deaths associated with younger road users.

The Ford Driving Skills For Life (DSFL) program takes young drivers with at least 40 hours on-road experience and allows them to participate in driving exercises aimed at improving four key driving areas as identified by Ford – hazard recognition, vehicle handling, distracted and impaired driving, and space and speed management.

Organised in conjunction with the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), it will take place in Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra and Sydney and will involve nearly 1000 students participating in sessions of 50 students each.

Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman said that the program was an important step towards reducing road fatalities.

“Young drivers are among the riskiest on the road and Ford has invested significantly all over the world, including Australia, to do our part to reduce road fatalities,” he said.

“The Driving Skills for Life program taps the global Ford leadership in young driver training and we’re excited to expand the program this year to reach even more young Australians.”

The students are put through a bunch of in-car tests to demonstrate safe habits, such as a braking exercises that demonstrates safe space management, emergency lane changes, and how to react when losing control of a vehicle around a corner.

Other positive habits are taught, such as how to properly sit in a car and where to place your hands on a steering wheel.

The program addresses tips taught to previous generations that may no longer be correct, for example the two drinks in the first hour/one drink every hour after guide to drinking before driving.

Participants are also put into an impairment suit that simulates the feeling of being drunk to show the effects that it can have on motor skills.

First launched in the United States in 2003, the DSFL program has spread across the globe and has since been introduced in markets such as Europe and Asia, with the Asian program also being offered to adults due to the high number of mature-age people who are only now able to afford a car and are driving for the first time.

It was implemented in Australia last year before becoming a regular event in 2016.

Ford has introduced safe young driving initiatives before, such as the MyKey technology which allows car owners to program a key that can limit a vehicle’s top speed and audio volume, while enforcing unlimited warnings if safety belts are not harnessed.

The DSFL program comes at a time where road fatalities are on the rise, with the Australian road toll up 12.2 per cent since this time last year according to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC).

Drivers aged 17-25 are responsible for a quarter of all road deaths despite making up 13.5 per cent of road users, and 45 per cent of all young Australian injury deaths come from road accidents.

Drivers who participated in the 2015 event have reported that the program increased their confidence behind the wheel and their driving habits were passed on to their friends who did not participate.

ACSSO CEO Dianne Giblin said that it was important to support the DSFL initiative.

“As the organisation that represents the interest of the families and communities of every teen in public education, we consider it is our responsibility to champion such an important initiative,” she said.

“We believe Driving Skills for Life will better inform young people through practical, hands on experiences, helping them become safer, more aware drivers.”

While the Melbourne event has finished, interested parties can still sign up for training in Geelong (November 25-27), Canberra (December 2-4) and Sydney (December 9-11).

Registration can be filled out online.

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