Monday, 19 November 2018

Driving Skills For Life comes to Ballarat to teach our drivers

Driving Skills For Life comes to Ballarat to teach our drivers
29 Oct

A comprehensive free driver training program is trying to quell that parental fear and equip new drivers with hands-on experience in defensive driving.

The Ford Driving Skills For Life program visited Ballarat for the first time on Sunday, allowing young people to get behind the wheel and test ABS braking on obstacle courses.

It is young drivers who account for most road deaths, according to the Australian Automobile Association. In the 12 months prior to July 2018, 26-39 year olds made up 240 road deaths, followed closely by the 237 road deaths of 17-25 years olds.

Program director James Stewart said while regional drivers were used to high speeds, unlike their metro counterparts, attitude mattered more.

“At the end of the day, it’s their attitude that makes the biggest difference, then we try and give them skills to know what to do in an emergency stop, how to swerve, it’s preventative,” he said. 

“The biggest safety feature on our public roads is a bit of white paint … it’s about emphasising that while you might be the world’s best driver, are you equipped to avoid the other idiots?” 

Virtual reality headsets allowed participants to see what it’s like as cyclist when cars pass at high speed, and an ‘Impairment Suit’ was onsite, which mimics the affects alcohol has on the body.

For the first year, the free training course has partnered with the Amy Gillett Foundation attempting to turn around the sobering statistics of cyclist deaths on our roads. 

There had been an 80 per cent increase in cyclist deaths in the 12 months up to August 2018, according to figures from the AAA.

Seventeen-year-old Courtney Betts said she and her brother joined the course at their Mum Naomi’s prodding, but it was a “good opportunity” to improve before she got her Ps. 

“On the road, I haven’t had any accidents, because mum has been there. But you see certain things other drivers do that are a bit stupid,” she said. “I feel like this will make me safer. Even just theory, there are things I didn’t know before, like how to angle side mirrors, and to put your hands on the wheel at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock instead.”

Mr Stewart said a major element missing from our roads now was courtesy. 

“We need to treat each other with a bit more respect. Even just simple things like a wave, or letting people in, that would make a big difference,” he said. 

“We’re all so aggressive and angry when we drive these days, it’s not needed.”



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