You’re never too young to learn to drive, according to Mercedes-Benz World. Its academy aims to cut accidents involving the most vulnerable road users.
Learning to drive is one of the most satisfying and challenging things you ever do. At first it can seem deceptively simple, but learning to drive is a lifetime process – you never stop learning – you adapt your knowledge and skills as you grow and develop through life. The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy offers several programmes for people at different life stages.
For young drivers they offer Pre-Road, Licence and Post-Licence Sessions. All of them offer various products to suit your needs. Being a good driver is much more than just passing the driving test. Their goal is for you to develop skills that go beyond controlling the car and mastering traffic situations.
Fact: One in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing the test, according to Brake, the road safety charity. A further 70 per cent report near misses. In 2006, 300 newly qualified drivers and their passengers were killed and 10 times as many were seriously injured – not to mention the casualties among those they plough into.
Mika Hatakka, a Finnish psychologist and key player in many EU projects designed to improve (make safer) the training of drivers says, “The UK is one of the safest countries in Europe to drive,” he says. “Your death rate is the lowest after Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden. But one of the black spots is still 17-year-old drivers. It’s not a problem just for the UK – everywhere the youngest drivers are the most at risk.”
“The Swedes,” Hatakka says, “reduced the age at which people could start driving by a year, giving them 18 months to practise before taking the test at 18. The average number of hours they had spent behind the wheel before passing rose from 50 to 120 – and the accident rate dropped by 40 per cent.”
That’s a lot fewer poignant bunches of wilting flowers at the roadside. If 16-year-olds are going to clock up more hours before being let loose on the roads, they will have to do so off-road, in places such as the old Brooklands circuit where the Driving Academy (which teaches pre- and post-licence skills) is based.