Race to Survive

Competing in motorsport could save your life on the road, according to a prominent Canberra driving instructor.

Daniel Flanagan, a successful racing driver and owner of the Fifth Gear Motoring driving school, says the authorities should do more to promote motorsport as a means of experiencing the limits of their vehicles in a safe and controlled environment.

Following a year in which the national road toll increased, Flanagan says motorsport involvement could be especially targeted at young drivers, who continue to be over-represented in crash statistics.

“P-platers and inexperienced drivers often drive in a risky manner because they enjoy the adrenaline rush, and want to show off to their peers,” Flanagan said.

“Road trauma occurs when they engage in this sort of driving on public roads, where the lack of systematic protection puts innocent lives in danger.

“Young drivers need to be given a greater level of encouragement to experience the adrenaline rush of driving at the limit in a controlled environment.

“Promoting the various motorsport disciplines as a means of experiencing this feeling in a safe place is far more likely to cut through to the younger demographic than “shock-horror” style negative advertising campaigns.”

Flanagan and Fifth Gear Motoring have launched a defensive driving program in conjunction with the Wakefield Park motor racing circuit in Goulburn. Providing a stepping stone to further driver training and a way for drivers to understand vehicle dynamics, it is aimed at encouraging more drivers to explore the limits of their vehicles in a controlled environment.

“The program aims to develop a pro-active approach to driving and realistic skill development that is applicable to best prepare a driver for today’s roads,” Flanagan said.

“Throughout the program our aim is to focus on aspects of driving including emergency stops, brake and swerve techniques, wet weather driving, hazard perception and observation.

“We’ll also educate the participants on how easy it is to become involved in club-level motorsport or advanced driving, to help scratch the performance itch.”

Wakefield Park operations manager Matt Baragwanath said the introduction of defensive driver training presents a strong community message.

“While a large part of our business is aimed at motorsport competition, we recognise our facility is the perfect environment for driver education, which has a strong and widespread community benefit,” Mr Baragwanath said.

“We’re pleased to welcome an experienced operator like Daniel Flanagan to conduct driver training at the venue, and we’re sure it will save lives on public roads.”

The driver training courses will commence in the coming weeks, while Flanagan is one of several Canberra drivers preparing to compete in the Wakefield 300 endurance race, to be held on 25-26 February.