A new initiative designed to deliver road, vehicle and driving skills to West Midlands teenagers was officially launched by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham earlier this week.
‘Wheels and skills’ was launched on 9 July at West Midlands Fire Service’s Safeside Centre in Birmingham, where 15 students from the nearby Heartlands Academy ‘road tested’ some of the programme’s workshops.
Instigated by West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) and 3D Driving Awareness, the programme is supported by Kwik Fit and the AA Driving School. Wheels and Skills can be tailored to individual schools’ needs to deliver a mix of practical and theory-based sessions within two to three hours.
The ‘Wheels and Skills’ programme will visit around 35 sixth forms and colleges across the West Midlands in the 2014/15 academic year.
Several workshops run simultaneously and focus on subjects including driver distractions, vehicle and journey safety, speed awareness and ‘your first driving lesson’.
In one of the interactive elements of the event, students take a seat in an electric go-kart to negotiate ‘pedestrian’ obstacles on an outdoor track – before driving for a second time wearing impairment ‘beer goggles’ which simulate the effects of alcohol and drugs.
Ross Stephenson, WMFS, said: “Having driving lessons and then enjoying their new freedom on the road is an exciting time for young people, but it brings risks and responsibilities. Wheel and Skills is all about broadening their road and vehicle safety knowledge to keep themselves, their passengers and other road users as safe as possible.”
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “During the ‘Wheels and Skills’ days, our Kwik Fit team will be on hand to talk new drivers through the basic car maintenance they can carry out themselves and to reinforce the importance of making regular checks to improve the safety of their vehicle on the road.
“We hope that our participation in the initiative will help in ensuring motorists are in the safest position possible – not only when they first learn to drive, but for life.”