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Ford Australia gets behind young driver safety

Ford's Driving Skills for Life program launched in Australia to improve teenage drivers' skills.

Young drivers are the most at risk of having a serious or fatal car accident, so arming them with the skills to safely negotiate our roads is of great importance.

Ford has thrown its support behind the issue by launching the Driving Skills for Life program in Australia, aimed at Year 12 students on their L and P-plates.

The aim of the program is to reinforce safe driving practises with recently licensed young drivers, a group over-represented in road accident statistics, and is provided free of charge by the Ford Motor Company Fund.

The program focuses on four key areas - hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management.

First introduced in the United States in 2003, the Driving Skills for Life program involves theoretical components, and hands-on driver training with professional instructors.

Theoretical simulations include the effects of alcohol and general distractions. Practical elements include emergency braking from different speeds, emergency lane changes, an obstacle avoidance exercise, and low-speed oversteer/understeer situations on low-friction surfaces.

Teens are some of the riskiest driver son Australian roads

Driving Skills for Life has been brought to Australia in conjunction with the Australia Council of State Schools Organisation, and schools in NSW and Victoria.

The program is being trialled in Sydney and Melbourne this month, with a view to rolling it out to other parts of the country in the future. 

The launch of the program in Australia coincides with the release of a survey commissioned by Ford Australia, which shows young drivers consider their parents as driving role models, although parents often find themselves teaching their children bad driving habits.

"Teens are some of the riskiest driver son Australian roads," said Driving Skills for Life global boss Kyle Green. "But our new survey shows they do not necessarily begin that way."

Parents need to understand they are role models

The survey found that parents teaching their children to drive can be stressful, with 49 per cent of young drivers reporting driving lessons involved raised voices, while 19 per cent have threatened to discontinue driving lessons with their parents.

More worryingly, Ford's survey found that parents are far more likely to engage in bad driving practises themselves, with 28 per cent admitting to using their phones to browse Facebook or take selfies while driving compared to 18 per cent of young drivers.

"Parents need to understand they are role models, and this starts from the moment their kids get behind the wheel," Green said.