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Ford’s Driving Skills for Life program returns

Young money: Although young drivers are not always able to afford the latest cars with the best safety equipment, Ford says its Driving Skills for Life course will teach beginners crucial techniques to improve safety in any vehicle.

Pedestrian and cyclist safety added to 2017’s Ford young driver education program

5 Oct 2017

FORD Australia has once again kicked off its Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program, aimed to reduce the impact that young drivers make to Australia’s national road toll through education and hands-on training.

Now in its third year, the program will tour five cities – including Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin, Wodonga and Coffs Harbour – and has been specially designed to address hazard recognition, vehicle handling, distracted and impaired driving, and space and speed management while on the road.

In Australia, the average number of road deaths per 100,000 people sits at 5.37 and nearly doubles to nine/100,000 people aged in the 15 to 24 bracket, making it the second-highest cause of death for local youths.

In indigenous communities however, this number is four to five times the national average and to address this, Ford has partnered with charity organisation Balunu to bring its DSFL program to rural populations for the first time.

Balunu Foundation founding director David Cole praised Ford for taking the initiative to educate young drivers both indigenous and otherwise.

“Providing driver safety programs to new drivers is critical in keeping our roads safe, and ensuring that we prevent the senseless loss of lives of young people,” he said.

“Safety driving programs such as this also ensure that our young people have a healthy respect for driving and share the road, whilst being better equipped to be a safer driver.”

As part of the program, participants learn the ideal vehicle seating position, how to position hands on the steering wheel and where to focus their vision while on the move.

DSFL can also simulate the feeling of being inebriated through a sense-inhibiting ‘drunk suit’ that distorts vision, muffles hearing, disrupts balance and scrambles coordination to highlight the dangers of drink driving.

Behind the wheel, partakers are able to experience a heavy braking situation and cornering on a slippery surface to better prepare themselves in a real-world emergency situation.

New in this year’s program are activities that emphasis pedestrian and cyclist safety – who combined, account for 15 per cent of all fatalities on Australian roads.

Ford Australia president and CEO Graeme Whickman said the brand is taking advantage of its influence in the automotive community to instil life-long habits in new and young drivers.

“Our goal is to sort of educate their experience and their view on how to share themselves on the road, it's kind of as simple as that,” he said.

“And at the end of the day, we want to make an important impact. As a company that's spread around the world, we have a strong view of our corporate footprint and the legacy that we have in any country.”

Mr Whickman also said the skills learned through the DSFL program will always be important and integral in the driving experience, despite the advent of safety systems including autonomous emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.

“I think it’s still very important,” he said. “It’s kind of like saying ‘don’t bother teaching anyone to type because Windows does its job’.”

The DSFL program is free to register and join at www.FordDSFL.com.au with events taking place across October to early November.

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