Mercedes introduces new driving school in Vancouver

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Mercedes-Benz had a lot on hand at the Vancouver International Auto Show last week. Along with the most expansive lineup Photo: Mercedes-Benz
of new models in its history, the automaker's show stage featured a new B-Class compact and a more fuel-efficient, lower-priced turbodiesel-powered GLK compact SUV, to the beautifully sculpted SLS AMG GT Roadster supercar, but the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers might have been its most intriguing announcement.

Let's face the facts. The number one killer of Canada's young people (ages 15-24) is motor vehicle accidents, with more than 700 dying of motor vehicle related incidents each year; young people are three times more likely to die in an MVA. On top of that, more than 50,000 youth are injured in motor vehicle accidents annually, while 25-percent of MVAs are caused by young drivers, which incidentally only make up 13-percent of motorists. Therefore Mercedes' choice to focus on making young drivers more skilled on the r oad and better equipped to make responsible choices when behind the wheel is commendable.

A row of white, black and orange B-Class liftbacks and C-Class sedans were on hand, the livery of Mercedes' new program designed to teach rudimentary driving skills and accident avoidance maneuvers to new drivers. Mercedes-Benz already has a performance driving program to teach advanced driving skills to experienced drivers from behind the wheel of its AMG cars, so instead this program has been created to help new drivers more fully understand the mechanicals of driving and, through a schoolroom setting using detailed explanation as well as creative diagrams, as well as home-based online training and of course hands-on practical experience behind the wheel of the brand's smaller more manageable models, set them on the road to becoming better, safer drivers.

"The skills Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
required to simply get a license do not fully prepare young drivers to meet the harsh demands of the road," said Alexander J. Hobbach, Global Head of Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy. "Our exclusive, in-depth coaching methods were developed as a direct result of the cutting-edge research conducted through the High impact approach for Enhancing Road safety through More Effective communication Skills (HERMES) project. Our techniques have proven to be extremely effective in other markets around the world, and we are pleased to work with the highly-skilled team in Canada to establish the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers in Vancouver."

The program, developed in Germany and now available in many countries around the world including China, helps new drivers build confidence on their way through British Columbia's graduated licensing program, starting with their "L" (learner's) license right through to achieving an "N" for new drivers. In order to accomplish this, Mercedes' new program utilizes e-learning and personal risk assessment modules to help participants learn risk awareness. Its technologically advanced approach includes homework via online teaching and parental/spousal involvement (if applicable), a first in the industry. The automaker is clear to point out that the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers is the "only school to receive approval for an online training component from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC)."

"Safe drivers are responsible drivers, and this sense of responsibility can be developed in the driver training process if the learner is empowered to make decisions, recognize threats and identify his or her own goals," said John Jacobsen, General Manager, Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers. "Our revolutionary coaching approach immediately increases the sense of responsibility within the new driver when they are in the car, while our world-class instructors and intensive quality assurance programs ensure that each student is empowered to become a safe and responsible driver."

Unlike some learners' programs that focus primarily on young drivers, the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers focuses on exactly what its name implies, new drivers regardless of age. The automaker realizes that many of its clients have family members that may not have earned a driver's license yet, and what better way to introduce them to the road than from behind the wheel of a car they may already be familiar with. Mercedes vehicles are also renowned for safety while the brand's B- and C-Class models are comfortable and considered easy to drive, making them ideal for entry-level drivers.

The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers utilizes the same skilled coaching team that Mercedes employs for its AMG Driving Academy advanced program, Vancouver-based Driving Unlimited. The long-standing relationship Mercedes enjoys with Driving Unlimited served as the basis for choosing Vancouver's Lower Mainland as the starting point for the new driving school; expect the program to expand across Canada after it develops roots in Vancouver. The classroom sessions will be run out of four dealerships, including Vancouver (Boundary Road), North Vancouver, Richmond, and Surrey. Additional driver training will also take place at Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers' offices in Pitt Meadows, BC.

Pricing is competitive, with the graduated licensing program listed at $1,290.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy for New Drivers,

Organizations: Mercedes-Benz

Geographic location: Vancouver

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