Ford Expands, Opens to Public, Teen Safe Driving Program to Help Address Road Tragedies – a Top Cause of Death for Young Australians

Ford Driving Skills for Life (1)

Ford Driving Skills for Life (2)Ford Driving Skills for Life (3)

Ford of Australia – the country’s largest automotive investor – will increase its local presence further by expanding its award-winning Driving Skills for Life teen safe driving program while making it available to the public for the first time

  • In partnership with the Australia Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), Ford will bring the program to four Australian cities – Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra and Sydney – with plans to reach nearly 1,000 young drivers after launching in two cities last year
  • Ford also will reinforce with parents their influence as kids’ top safe-driving role model while featuring important vehicle safety and driver-assist features
  • Ex-Geelong Cats footballer and father of four, Billy Brownless, signs on as official spokesman to broaden his passionate message about upskilling young drivers in order to reduce road fatalities in Australia

Ford Driving Skills for Life BEER GOGGLES to show how difficult impaired driving is (1)Melbourne, 25 October, 2016 Ford is helping some of the riskiest drivers on our roads, young people, by expanding its award-winning Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) safe driving program across four cities in Australia in 2016 while making the free program available publicly.

The 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 nearly 1,000 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 No. 1 killer of young males according to the Australian Institute for Health and Welfarei. Australian drivers aged 17-25 represent 18.8 percent ii of all Australian road deaths even though they only represent 11.8 percent iii 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.”

“Following the success of last year’s events, we are thrilled to continue our support for the Ford Driving Skills for Life program in 2016. 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. We believe Driving Skills for Life will better inform young people through practical, hands on experiences, helping them become safer, more aware drivers,” says Dianne Giblin AM, CEO, ACSSO.

Parents as safety partners
Recognising the influence parents and guardians have in young people learning to drive, Ford has signed on ex-Geelong Cats footballer Billy Brownless as the official DSFL ambassador. As a father of four, Brownless is passionate about upskilling young drivers in order to reduce road fatalities in Australia.

“Having now taught three of my kids to drive, I know first-hand the important role that parents and guardians play in the process of learning to drive,” said Billy Brownless, DSFL ambassador.

“I am honoured to be involved with the Ford Driving Skills for Life program as the skills training they are bringing to young Australians will help decrease the number of road deaths in Australia.”

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.

Passing grades
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.

Established in 2003, Ford Driving Skills for Life is a hands-on driver safety program providing newly-licensed drivers with new skills and information not offered by traditional driver education courses.

Since 2003, Ford Motor Company’s award-winning driver education program, Driving Skills for Life, has reached hundreds of thousands of teens online and thousands more in hands-on events around the world. Ford translated extensive research from its advanced driving simulator studies in the U.S. into the program, which teaches the necessary skills that could help prevent up to 60 per cent of young driver accidents. At Ford’s DSFL events, students learn critical skills in hands-on driver training by professional driving instructors.

In addition to safety education, Ford has invested in new safety and driver assist technologies to address the key risks identified:

  • MyKey teen safety technology: Introduced in in 2014 in Australia, allows owners to program a key that can limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume to less than half of the maximum. MyKey also encourages safety-belt usage through unlimited warnings if teens are not belted and can sound special chimes at pre-set speeds.
  • Lane Keeping System: This driver assist technology can provide steering torque to help keep your vehicle in your lane or even provide a drowsy driver alert if sensing drivers consistently drifting outside their lanes.

Driving Skills for Life will be a ticketed event, with 250 free spots for participants in each city. Tickets are available at www.FordDSFL.com.au. Tickets will be allocated in order of registration.

The program builds on the company’s leading automotive investment in Australia of more than $300 million in R&D this year alone.

i Deaths Among Young People Aged 15–24, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012
ii Road Trauma Australia 2015 Statistical Summary, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, table 5.3, pg. 50.
iii Roy Morgan Single Source Data, July 2015 – June 2016, 17-25yos drivers = 1,918,000 / driving population = 16,229,000 = 11.8%

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