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Look at any statistics regarding vehicle accidents or traffic violations and there’s no question that a good deal of those result from young drivers. Over confidence, lack of awareness and inexperience can often be a dangerous mix.
That’s something that Mercedes-Benz is hoping to change, by launching it’s first ever driving academy in the U.S., later on this year. The purpose of the academy is to teach young drivers, especially teens on how to be better, safer motorists by using a combination of interactive classroom sessions, online learning and also practical driver training.
Mercedes-Benz says that it has adopted an innovative driver education program that reflects the best teaching methods from around the world, but tailored to meet US motorists.
According to Alexander Hobbach, a Senior Manager with Daimler AG; ”despite the dramatic changes in vehicles, highways, and the driving environment over the past 60 years, driver education remains relatively unchanged in the U.S. The skills required to simply get a license do not fully prepare young drivers to meet the demands of the road. Mercedes-Benz recognizes this issue and as a result is creating an educational program for the U.S. that is based on the best teaching methods and tools available.”
In fact standard driver training in the US consists of just 30 hours of classroom learning and 6 hours of practical driving.
The US driving academy isn’t actually the first the company has opened; back in 2009 it launched a program in the UK. To date, more than 4500 students have enrolled in that program and the academy has achieved a pass rate among students of 79 percent, more than double the national average for first time driving tests in Britain.
Given that US teens are four times more likely to be involved in vehicle related accidents than older drivers (according to information released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), any auto manufacturer that looks for ways to improve driving standards should be lauded for their endeavors; it certainly makes a refreshing change from simply adding more and more driver aids to the vehicle, which can have the knock on effect of essentially reducing driver skill and responsibility in many cases.
Most driving schools use boring little econo-boxes to teach students the skills required to drive a car, but the Mercedes-Benz AMG Driving Academy is not your average driving school.
This high performance driving school is designed to teach you to get the best out of your super sportscar, and to accomplish that, they will not only use the SLS road car, but also the SLS GT3 racer.
Those looking to improve their driving skills to perhaps enter amateur racing, can choose from four different programs. The “Experience” program will give its students driving lessons in a regular SLS for most of the practice, followed by some seat time in the SLS GT3 but will be asked to follow a lead vehicle. The day will end by getting hot-laps by the professionals in the SLS GT3. You will also get a video of your day at the track.
The next step is the “Warm up” program. This is a theory based program, teaching you about braking, changing gear, overtaking, plus a variety of other handling exercises.
This can be followed by the “Training” program where the focus will be one-on-one time with a personal trainer.
Once this is completed, you can get into the “Competition” program, and this will certainly be the most fun, because you will get to spend most of the time driving around in the SLS GT3. As part of the course, there will be individual and team competitions to give you a real sense of competition. This program will cost 1500-Euros ($2100) but it has got to be worth every penny.
When you’ve got a car that will do 0-60 mph in well under four seconds and top more than 200 mph, it’s probably a good idea to learn how to drive it, or at least explore some of its capabilities without coming a cropper.
Lexus agrees, which is why the brand is going to offer what it calls a ‘driver development’ program for customers who take delivery of the LFA supercar . The program, which is a one-day affair, is scheduled to take place at Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point) in Sonoma, California from March 8-15.
Included are racing theory sessions, technical demonstrations, as well as performance limit exercises and plenty of track time, with coaching by professional motorsports drivers and instructors.
“This program offers a unique opportunity to experience the 552 horsepower Lexus LFA supercar in its natural environment,” declared group vice president and Lexus General Manager Mark Templin.
“Once you’ve driven the LFA on a race track, you can really appreciate this engineering accomplishment” he said. “Track time with the LFA will change all preconceived ideas of what a supercar should be.” No doubt it will.