Get into the right driving habit

Are you teaching your kids bad driving habits?

That's the question Maffra and District Car Club's 'Junior Development Driving Program' is asking.

Perhaps you drive with your hands at the 9-3 position, use your left foot to the brake or sit unreasonably close to the steering wheel.

These are just some of the key areas the program aims to address with young people from 12 to 18 years.

The program involves volunteer instructors teaching kids the basics of car control in a safe and enclosed environment.

Stratford Leading Senior Constable Richard Chrisp, one of the program's instructors, said it's essential to teach young people good techniques behind the wheel from an early age.

"A lot of parents have bad habits, for instance how they hold the steering, how they sit in the vehicle and their observations - things like left foot braking in an automatic car are all big issues," Ldg Snr Const Chrisp said.

"I did 20 years in the highway patrol and I have a lot of experience in dealing with young drivers and road trauma and this program really addresses the key areas of road safety.

"I think it's essential for kids to seek external training where the parents haven't had formal driving training themselves."

The program, held at the Boisdale Hillclimb Track, has been running since 2004 in conjunction with the Confederation of Australian Motorsport.

All of the cars have an emergency brake and a kill switch and some cars are equipped with a dual control pedal for the less confident drivers.

"For a lot of young people it's the first time they get behind a car and it's in a non-intimidating environment and they are away from any other roads users," Ldg Snr Const Chrisp said.

"And if we can teach them these habits early hopefully they will stay with them throughout their driving career."

Ldg Snr Const Chrisp said the course addressed a number of key areas like steering, emergency braking, low speed maneuvering through traffic cones and hill starts.

"We teach them how to set themselves up in a car before they get behind the wheel then once we're out on the course, we will teach them how to drive from scratch," Ldg Snr Const Chrisp said.

"If they haven't driven a manual we'll teach them how to drive using the clutch.

"We have a mock-up vehicle that we have with a seat, steering wheel, pedals and seat belt. So I show them how to set themselves up correctly in the vehicle, how to hold the steering wheel which is in the 10-2 position and how we sensibly use pedals."

MADCC publicity officer Adrian Britton said it was important young drivers sought training from a qualified instructor.

"As a parent I want my children to be as safe as they can. I have three daughters and two of them have gone through the system," Mr Britton said.

"It's good to prepare the young ones because there's many kids who don't have the opportunity to get behind the wheel before the get their L plates."

Mr Britton said the program was free of charge and allowed children to get behind the wheel, often for their first time.

"We try and split them into groups based on their experience behind the wheel," he said.

"One of these factors is if they've had prior experience on the farm or private property before but unfortunately there's a lot of kids that just don't get that experience."

Three sessions are run each year with the next session held on Sunday, 26 March.

People encouraged book ahead.

For more information, visit madcc.com or phone junior driver development program coordinator Chris Clark on 0409 007 628.

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