Ford have announced they’re bringing their Driving Skills for Life program to Wodonga among many other stops around the country. The hands-on driving program covers 6 key areas – Hazard Recognition, Vehicle Handling, Speed Management, Space Management, Pedestrian Awareness and Cycling Safety. Given we don’t teach people driving skills at high school anymore, its a great opportunity for parents to bring their kids along or even refresh their own. The best part, its free.
Its not everyday that a regional city like Wodonga (home to techAU HQ), is included in an educational tour like this, so get behind it. The Ford Driving Skills for Life Wodonga event is happening on November 11th at Wodonga TAFE. There’s 2 sessions, AM and PM, 8.30AM – 12.10PM and 12:30 – 4:10PM. To get involved, just register (places are limited) at https://forddsfl.com.au. For other events on the calendar, check out the full program here.
The event is done using professional instructors from Driving Solutions, while students get to drive current-model Ford vehicles to learn driving skills in a controlled and safe environment.
- Melbourne: Saturday 14th October
- Sydney: Saturday 21st October
- Coffs Harbour: Saturday, 4th November
- Wodonga: Saturday, 11th November
The Driving Skills for Life program is now in its third year of helping to train young and new drivers, which are some of the highest risk motorists on our roads, In 2017, the program incorporates new training and education to address pedestrians and cyclists in a bid to reduce the national road toll through better education.
15% of all deaths on Australian roads in 2016 – 2017 (12 months to July) involved cyclists and pedestrians. While Ford have been adding driver assist technology to their vehicles like Active City Stop and SYNC voice commands to keep driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, avoiding accidents while humans remain behind the wheel, still relies on more education of the public.
Around 17% of Australians ride a bike each week. With this volume of cyclists mixing with road traffic, its never been more important to provide bespoke training adapted for our local roads. There’s also a growth in bike sharing services in major cities, putting more cyclists on the roads in high pedestrian areas. When paired with busy CBD traffic and distracted drivers, the problem is increasing and the answer today, is driving education.
Australian Council of State School Organisations(ACSSO) CEO, Dianne Giblin says
“We are very excited to continue our support for Ford Australia’s Driving Skills for Life Program, which returns for its third year in 2017. Instilling safe driving skills in young drivers is crucial while they are still learning as it sets them up with sound driving skills for life. Pedestrian and cycling training is a fantastic addition to the program as it educates young drivers about the responsibility and importance of sharing the road.”
While Australia has seen a decrease in driver deaths on the roads in the past year, pedestrian deaths rose 4.9%. Further to this, there was a 7% increase in 2016, revealing a shocking trend of 336 pedestrians losing their lives since 2015.
Victorian Director of the Pedestrian Council of Australia and international road safety specialist, Dr Ray Shuey said,
“We welcome Ford’s Driving Skills for Life initiative as it emphasizes that safe driving is founded on ‘knowledge, skills and behaviour’ – two out of three is unacceptable. Drivers and pedestrians alike must apply 100% concentration when sharing our roads. RESPECT is a key attribute – Respect for self, Respect for passengers and Respect for other road users – safety for all,’
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.
The Driving Skills for Life program provides education to new drivers to assist with keeping the road toll down. Road and traffic deaths are still the second-highest cause of death for Australians aged 15 – 24, and within this group, the leading killer of young males. For the regular Australian, the average number of road deaths per 100,000 people is 5.37, but for the young adult age bracket, it is nearly double this and currently sits at 9.0, with the number for men in this age bracket being an alarming 13.4 (2.5 times the national average). For Indigenous Australians, this alarming figure ranges from 20 to 25 per 100,000.
Engaging Rural Communities
For the first time, this year’s program will be offered to young drivers in country New South Wales, Victoria and in the Northern Territory where the injury death rate for Indigenous drivers is five times greater than for non-Indigenous youths. Ford’s first session will be in Darwin on 7th October, providing advanced driving education to a new audience.
President and CEO, Ford Australia, Graeme Whickman said,
“We are very pleased to expand our Driving Skills for Life in 2017 to support into regional and indigenous communities.
While there continues to be a strong national focus on protecting young Australian drivers, research shows that this demographic is still the most hazardous on Australian roads. We also know that with the growing number of cyclists on the roads and with the unfortunate rise of pedestrian deaths, the programs focus on cyclist and pedestrian education that Driving Skills for Life will bring is much needed Australia-wide.”
The program builds on the company’s leading automotive investment in Australia. While Ford, like Holden and Toyota are done with making cars in this country, they are continuing to invest in R&D, with $450 million to be spent in 2017 alone. By the end of this year, Ford will have a 2,000 person strong team in Australia, including 1750 engineers, designers and technicians.
As part of this investment, Ford’s Melbourne head office is now the Asia Pacific Product Development Centre, which features state-of-the-art virtual design and engineering capability, and will be the centrepiece of Australia’s most advanced automotive development campus. The centre positions Ford as the automaker with the most comprehensive capability to design and engineer vehicles in Australia.
Ford is also increasing its commitment to helping develop the next generation of engineers and designers. Ford recently raised $300,000 to expand student robotics programs in Broadmeadows and Geelong partner schools. Engineers personally mentor students in these Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) programs to develop and program robots for competition around the world.