Previously a private program, Ford's "Driving Skills for Life" teen safe driving program is coming to four Australian cities — Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra and Sydney — with plans to reach nearly 1,000 young drivers.
The free programs will take place in Melbourne (11-13 November), Geelong (25-27 November), Canberra (2-4 December) and Sydney (9-11 December) in partnership with the Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO) and will help young drivers learn how to avoid the riskiest driving situations based on findings by Ford scientists.
Traffic crashes are the second-highest cause of death for young people aged 15-24, and the number one killer of young males according to the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare. Australian drivers aged 17-25 represent 18.8 per cent of all Australian road deaths — even though they only represent 11.8 per cent of the driving population according to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development — Road Trauma Australia 2015 Statistical Summary.
Ford research has identified four key areas — hazard recognition, vehicle handling, distracted and impaired driving, space and speed management — in which young drivers lack skills and education. The DSFL program has been specially designed to address each of these through hands-on driver training.
"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," said Graeme Whickman, president and CEO, Ford Australia. "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."
Ford also offers parents the chance to join facilitated discussions on their importance as safe-driving role models along with invaluable tips from coping with stressful situations to building good driving relationships with their children.
"Ford research has shown that parents and guardians have incredible influence on the driving behaviours of newly-licensed drivers," said Whickman. "We saw an opportunity to improve the skills of young drivers and also show parents and guardians the role they play in keeping their kids safe on the roads."
In a 2015 survey of teenagers between 16-19 years old conducted by Ford, 61 per cent of learners said their parents or supervising driver struggled to teach them fundamentals such as how to parallel park, merge, and check blind spots.
Students who participated in the inaugural events in 2015 report increased confidence behind the wheel and that their driver training has had a knock-on effect to their peers who did not participate.
Driving Skills for Life will be a ticketed event, with 250 free spots for participants in each city. Tickets are available online.