COLOGNE, Germany – Ford Motor Company is today launching its globally successful Ford Driving Skills for Life program in Europe to help train thousands of young drivers as road accidents remain the number one killer of young people in the region.
Ford will invest €1.5 million in the first year alone to provide free hands-on training to 5,000 young drivers in the U.K., Germany, France, Spain and Italy by the end next year and thousands more online through a web-based Driving Skills for Life Academy.
Also today, Ford released the results of a poll of 9,500 people – young drivers and the parents of young drivers across Europe – that shows most young drivers admit to breaking the speed limit; almost half eat or drink at the wheel; and two in five use a mobile phone while driving*. Ford commissioned the poll to better understand the driving habits and attitudes of young drivers and their parents as the company prepared to launch Ford Driving Skills for Life in Europe.
“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 program to Europe.”
Ford Driving Skills for Life will provide free hands-on expert training to young drivers alongside a dedicated website that together cover the leading factors in young driver car accidents: hazard recognition, vehicle handling, speed/space management and distractions.
According to the European Commission Road Accident Database, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 18-24 year olds in Europe. Between 2000 and 2009, there were more than 76,000 18-24 year old crash-related fatalities in the European Union – totalling almost a fifth of all European road deaths.
“The evidence suggests that younger drivers are slower to identify some risky situations than more experienced drivers,” said driving behaviour expert Cris Burgess, a U.K. government advisor and senior lecturer in psychology at Exeter University. “That inexperience can cost crucial split seconds so that by the time they recognise the danger they are unable to take the necessary action quickly enough to avoid a crash.”
Ford Driving Skills for Life was launched in the U.S. 10 years ago and has provided hands-on training to more than 100,000 young drivers around the world and a further 500,000 via online training.
In Europe, Ford is teaming up with leading safety organisations including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the AA in the U.K., the ACI in Italy, Real Automóvil Club in Spain, and Deutscher Verkehrssicherheitsrat in Germany. Ford may also roll out DSFL to further European markets over time.
“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 helping to raise awareness and reduce the number of young people who are killed or seriously injured on our roads.”
The new Ford-sponsored survey also found 24 per cent of parents of 17-24 year olds are more concerned that their children will be involved in a crash than that they will be a victim of a crime; lose their job; or fail at school/college.
“As a parent of children who have recently acquired driving licences, helping kids to learn to drive more safely has my whole-hearted support,” Odell said. “Our vision is that a whole generation of young drivers will benefit from this program.”
The Ford-sponsored survey also shows that while most young drivers rank getting to their destination safely as the most important factor in a car journey, 56 per cent exceed speed limits, 28 per cent said they had been involved in a crash or a near miss; 14 per cent have lost control of a car; 12 per cent have been involved in a road rage incident, and 10 per cent have 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 inexperienced and young drivers valuable tools and skills that can help them reduce their exposure to risk. And we work closely with external agencies to make sure the training is fun, informative and – above all – effective.”
Ford Driving Skills for Life hands-on training programs will begin later in 2013 at venues across Europe.