Going the extra mile for young drivers

I recently had the pleasure of attending the UK launch of a new young driver training scheme which has already achieved success overseas – and I can see why!

Ford RoSPA Driving Skills for Life

“Driving is a skill that needs to be developed throughout our lives…” – Kevin Clinton.

Ford Driving Skills for Life is a fantastic initiative which will help raise awareness of road safety among newly licensed drivers under the age of 25. Here at RoSPA, we have pushed for many decades the important message of encouraging young drivers to take up additional training after passing their test, and this is why we are pleased to be partnering with Ford on such a worthwhile scheme.

Are you aged 17 to 24? If so, why not take advantage of a free one-day course offering hands-on training both out on the road and in the classroom? As part of the initiative, the AA will deliver driver training focussing on the key areas of hazard recognition, vehicle handling, speed/space management and distraction. With vehicle crashes being one of the leading causes of death for 17 to 24-year-olds in Great Britain, you’d be silly not to give this training some serious thought!

There’s a serious message for drivers older than 24 as well. Driving is a skill that needs to be developed throughout our lives, we can all pick up bad habits and refresher training can help to iron these out. Some people even choose to develop their driving skills to an advanced level.

At RoSPA, our network of Advanced Drivers and Riders (RoADAR) groups are run by volunteers who help people to improve their driving and motorcycling. We have more than 50 local groups based across the UK that provide free training to help you develop and prepare you for taking the advanced test. You can find out more about your local group by visiting www.roadar.org/groups/.

Ford RoSPA Driving Skills for Life

But back to new drivers. Did you know that one in five new drivers has some sort of accident within the first six months of driving, but as they gain more experience, their crash rate falls? So after just one year of driving, a driver is more than 50 per cent safer. During the UK launch held at the Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME), a journalist asked me how important I thought it was to get young people to become ambassadors for road safety. I said that young people are more likely to listen to their peers and so the more young people who show an interest in Ford Driving Skills for Life the better, as they will be keen to share their experiences with others.

The next question from the press focussed on what can be done to change the way young drivers are educated. We say that driver training should start from an early age, it is a life skill, and parents should be setting an example to their children. After all, the way that parents drive can have a big influence on the way their children might drive when they get older. But we also hope that the eagerly awaited Government Green Paper will include a minimum learning period before candidates are permitted to sit their test, allowing learner drivers to gain extra skills and experience. Watch this space!

Ford RoSPA Driving Skills for Life

Kevin Clinton tries out the impairment goggles!

Following the press conference, I had the chance to experience driving while wearing a pair of impairment goggles, designed to show how your vision can be affected by drink and drugs and how this can impact on your driving. Trying to walk in a straight line with a pair of these on is certainly a challenge and for those young people who take part in the driver training, these goggles should make them think twice about driving while under the influence of drink and drugs.

If you fancy developing driving skills for life, then why not register an interest in the young drivers’ training scheme by visiting www.forddsfl.co.uk or emailing dsfl@ford.com. The courses will launch in the autumn at six regional venues as part of a £1.2million first-year investment across Europe. What are you waiting for? And more importantly, let us know how you get on by leaving your comments below.

And for those interested in finding out more about RoADAR, visit www.roadar.org.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety

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