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Ford US focuses on teen drivers… lesson for SA’s road moguls?

  • Driving Skills for Life moves on to year 16
  • 14-city US tour will give 6000 teens hands-on lessons
  • Sleep suit will highlight drowsy driving, sharpen focus
FORD DRIVING SKILLS: Extra lessons for newly licensed drivers. Image: Ford US
FORD DRIVING SKILLS: Extra lessons for newly licensed drivers aged 16 and up in the USA. Image: Ford US

DEARBORN, Michigan – Ford America’s ‘Driving Skills for Life’ programme for teenagers has just started its 16th year of operation and, as it happens, Sixteeners can drive legally in most American states.

The first sessions have just started in Houston, Texas – first stop of 60 free, hands-on, driver training sessions for teens and parents in 14 cities across the US during which more than 6000 people will get behind the wheel with a professional driver alongside.

It has, however, operated in 43 countries. (Perhaps our local traffic authorities could inquire about joining the scheme?)

FORD DRIVING SKILLS: Extra lessons for newly licensed drivers. Image: Ford US
FORD DRIVING SKILLS: Extra lessons for newly licensed drivers  this one explains the dangers of drowsy driving, Image: Ford US

Instruction will be given on a special course to teach advanced manoeuvres that, in extremis, might help them to survive.

FRESH DRIVING CONCERNS

It’s a learning curve for the instructors, too… the courses have moved forward over the years to adapt to changes in driving behaviour and fresh road-safety concerns but, once again, will introduce tools and add specialised programming to enhance the learning experience.

Highlights of the 2016 sessions, Ford says, will include:

• ‘Sleep suit’ technology to demonstrate the dangers of drowsy driving
• A module to explain ever-improving crash avoidance/protection tech
• How the programme has expanded to meet the demands of rural and emerging markets
• Addition of a parent module to assist in teen training away from Driving Skills for Life events
• New participants in the programme’s hands-on training

James Graham, the programme’s global manager, told The Corner in a media release: “Everything we do is intended to reduce the crash and death tolls by helping new drivers to develop essential skills, gain experience, and improve decision making.

SUMMER MOUNTAIN TOUR, TOO

“We keep a close watch on new trends that impact driving behavior and capture the attention of teens and parents with training that is not only beneficial, but interesting and fun, as it promotes safe, smart driving.”

After Houston, the skills tour will move through California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Arizona and Puerto Rico. A summer mountain tour will visit Billings (Montana), Cheyenne (Wyoming); and Spokane (Washington).

READ MORE Ford features on Carman’s Corner

It will also continue to collaborate with the Governors; Highway Safety Association and its member states in addressing the issues facing novice drivers.

Jonathan Adkins, the association’s executive director, added: ”We could not be more thrilled to continue our long partnership with Ford Driving Skills for Life. The programme effectively addresses the challenges faced by new drivers and their parents.

FORD DRIVING SKILLS: Extra lessons for newly licensed drivers. Image: Ford US
FORD DRIVING SKILLS: Extra lessons for newly licensed drivers are not only potential life-savers but also a lot of fun. Image: Ford US

”We’re excited to see this year’s additions that will contribute to the programme’s  success..”

The association said teen drivers were three times more likely to crash than those aged 20 and older. It also noted that, despite progress toward reducing teen driving deaths, drivers

RISING CRISIS LOOMING

The association also noted that, despite progress toward reducing teen driving deaths, drivers 16-20 years old were involved in fatal crashes – an increase of 3.6 percent in 2016.

Ford’s award-winning Driving Skills for Life program pairs hands-on ride-and-drive clinics with an emphasis on the dangers of drunk, drugged and distracted driving.

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