Ford Announces New Nationwide Training For Young Drivers As Data Reveals A Fifth Of All Serious Crashes Involves Novices


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BRENTWOOD, UNITED KINGDOM – June 25, 2013: Ford Motor Company today announced the introduction of its globally successful Ford Driving Skills for Life programme in the UK, as latest statistics confirm that road accidents remain one of the leading causes of death in young people.

As part of a pan-European launch, and in a bid to tackle common concerns for the vulnerability of inexperienced drivers under 25, Ford will invest more than 1.2 million (€1.5 million) this year in hands-on training for 5,000 novice drivers in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy and thousands more through the online Driving Skills for Life Academy.

A Ford poll of 9,500 people – young drivers and their parents – shows most young drivers admit to speeding; almost half eat or drink at the wheel, and two in five use a mobile phone while driving.

“It’s a sobering statistic that 18 to 24 year olds in Europe are at almost twice the risk of being killed in road accidents as other drivers,” said Stephen Odell, executive vice president and president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Ford Motor Company. “Ford Driving Skills for Life has had a very positive impact in North America and Asia and I’m delighted that we are now bringing this programme to Europe.”

Ford Driving Skills for Life will provide free hands-on expert training to young drivers alongside a dedicated website – www.fordDSFL.co.uk – that together address the leading causes of accidents in this age group: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, speed/space management and distractions.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Road safety is the most important life skill for young people as crashes remain a major cause of accidental death in this age group. The AA training in Ford Driving Skills for Life will prepare them for a much safer life on the road ahead. We will reinforce the skills needed to counter the combined risks of inexperience and misjudgement. This training, for some, could mean the difference between life and death.”

According to Department for Transport statistics*1, one in five of all reported personal injury road accidents in 2011 involved young car drivers, and 1,552 were killed or seriously injured - 25 per cent of all such casualties.

“The evidence suggests that younger drivers are slower to identify some risky situations than more experienced drivers,” said driving behaviour expert Cris Burgess, a UK government advisor and senior lecturer in psychology at Exeter University. “That inexperience often adds crucial split seconds in reaction time, so that when they do recognise the danger, they are unable to take the necessary action quickly enough to avoid a crash.”

“Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for young people so we are delighted to be partnering with Ford on the Driving Skills for Life initiative that offers free-of-charge supplementary training to all under-25s,” said Kevin Clinton, head of road safety, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. “Education is a fundamental pillar in recognising risk and ultimately reducing the number of young people killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

The Ford survey found 31 per cent of parents of 17-24 year olds in the UK are more concerned that their children might be involved in a crash, than be a victim of a crime, lose their job, or fail at school/college.

Mark Ovenden, chairman and managing director, Ford of Britain said: “As a parent of teenage children, one of whom is currently learning to drive, I am totally supportive of supplementary training to build awareness, skills and confidence. With Ford Driving Skills for Life we hope to inspire a generation of safer, more responsible and better skilled young motorists.”

The survey also showed that while most UK young drivers ranked getting to their destination safely as the most important factor in a car journey, 45 per cent exceeded speed limits, 27 per cent said they had been involved in a crash or a near miss; 11 per cent had lost control of a car; 10 per cent had been involved in a road rage incident, and 4 per cent admitted they had driven after drinking excess alcohol.

“Passing a driving test is a rite of passage but that alone is not enough to ensure a young driver becomes a safe driver,” said Jim Vella, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services, the philanthropic arm of Ford that oversees Ford Driving Skills for Life. “Ford Driving Skills for Life gives young inexperienced drivers valuable tools and skills that can help reduce their exposure to risk. And we work closely with external agencies to make sure the training is fun, informative and – above all – effective.”

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