Young, newly licenced drivers put driving skills to the test in safety program

A young driver takes part in the Ford Driving Skills for Life program on Saturday Oct. 29, 2022. Craig Momney / Global News

Dozens of young new drivers ready to take their parent’s keys and hop in the family car were given some much-needed lessons that could save their lives or the lives of others.

On Saturday, the Ford Motor Company hosted its Driving Skills for Life program in Calgary, which is meant to give teens safety tips before getting behind the wheel.

“We’re trying to re-enforce proper decision making,” said Dave Drimmie, who is with Ford Driving Skills for Life.

“That’s the two major reasons why younger drivers, there’s higher statistics in terms of fatalities and accidents because of inexperience and poor decision making.”

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For nearly twenty years, Ford has invested more than $60 million to provide a free program to newly licenced and teen drivers all over the world. The closed course hands-on clinic focuses on obstacles that the young drivers could face that may cause a crash, including speed management, vehicle handling and impaired driving.

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Fifteen-year-old new driver Ella Cutler described wearing the impairment driving goggles — which simulates impaired driving — as “scary” while she was behind the wheel.

“You can’t see anything and you don’t know whether you’re in the lines, outside the lines,” explains Cutler.

“I couldn’t see anything, especially the cones. And when you had to turn, you couldn’t see how far in the lines you were,” she says.

Her father Michael looked on as his daughter took the curves, running over pylon after pylon. He said he knows one day she will be on her own and hopes this experience gives her a good lesson before hitting the streets of Calgary.

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“I’d much rather her experience this in a controlled environment than make poor judgment and experience this in real life,” says Michael.

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According to Ford officials, young Canadian drivers between 15 to 19 years of age make up just 13 per cent of all drivers behind the wheel on Canadian roads.

“But, they are responsible for 20 per cent of fatalities on the road, so that statistic is something that Ford is trying to combat with this program,” adds Drimmie.

According to Ford, of all fatal collisions involving young drivers, the driver is impaired nearly half the time — at 42 per cent.

Sgt. Dale Seddon with the Calgary Police Service said the idea of the program is to get “out in front” of the issue before tragedy happens.

“You can explain that to them all you want, but until they actually come out here and sort of experience and see what it’s like to drive when you’re not at your best, maybe we can get to these people before a serious situation occurs,” said Seddon.

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