Last month we brought you initial news of Mercedes-Benz's plan to open a teen driving program in the United States, and with the annual California State PTA Convention kicking off in Long Beach, the German automaker's American subsidiary has confirmed its plans and revealed a few details along the way.
The first such program will open in Los Angeles before similar initiatives are launched across the country. The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy aims to make new drivers better drivers by integrating their advanced curriculum with the mandated state accreditation process to make for one, all-encompassing program that will take teens from theory through practice and on to their driver's permit.
Other custom-tailored programs will be offered as well, and Mercedes is also teaming up with Impact Teen Drivers, unfortunately named though it is, to deliver free two-hour parent/teen workshops at 20 schools across the city beginning late this summer. MBUSA is in the process of recruiting the best driving instructors it can get its hands on with a plan to officially open the program this coming October. Details in the press release after the jump, with photos in the gallery below.
MERCEDES-BENZ FIRST TEEN DRIVING SCHOOL IN THE UNITED STATES TO OPEN IN LOS ANGELES
MONTVALE, NJ – Mercedes-Benz USA announces today that it is opening the company's first Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy in Los Angeles in October 2011, offering a fully integrated driver's education program and school that incorporates online, classroom and behind-the-wheel training for Los Angeles-area teens.
The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy is unveiling details for its teen driving school at the annual California State PTA Convention, where approximately 2,500 California PTA members are attending from April 28 – May 1, 2011 in Long Beach, CA.
Mercedes-Benz is appointing Carolyn Duchene as Director for the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy, and she will be responsible for the launch and management of daily operations. A Mercedes-Benz USA employee since 1994, Duchene has held several positions in the areas of marketing, digital media, training and education, and customer service.
"In addition to a unique educational approach, our highly qualified staff will be a key differentiator for the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy. We are recruiting and hiring the best talent for all areas of operation," said Duchene. "The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy will connect with students and parents using a personalized, customer-centric approach that truly creates a unique offering among driver's education services for new teen drivers."
In preparation for its fall launch, the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy is actively recruiting uniquely qualified driving instructors, who will be groomed to deliver the Academy's research-based program in a highly effective coaching style. The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy instructors are going to be Mercedes-Benz employees and eligible to receive Mercedes-Benz USA benefit packages.
Several auto manufacturers and third-party organizations are currently offering teen driving programs which primarily focus on crash avoidance and defensive driving exercises. However, Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy aims to be the only car manufacturer to offer a California DMV-approved program, fully integrated with the Graduated Driver Licensing framework. The goal of the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy is to prepare students for today's driving environment by going beyond basic car control skills and rote learning of traffic rules.
The core program utilizes multiple teaching techniques and delivery methods ranging from online learning to interactive classroom sessions and behind-the-wheel training. The program will incorporate approaches such as digital animation to visualize road hazards in an online program, problem-solving exercises in the classroom, and hands-on experience of risky situations and in-car coaching techniques based on questioning rather than instruction. This approach is combined with consistent feedback from driving coaches to parents, which aims to assist them in planning their supervised driving practice. The overall collective curriculum aims to benefit and appeal to the vast spectrum of learning-styles which will ensure greater engagement and absorption of skills and knowledge.
A fully integrated California-focused curriculum will take a student from their instruction permit license stage through their provisional license. Other offerings include an on-road only curriculum for those who have chosen to complete their driver education requirement through other means, and a tailored program that takes into account individual driver's needs to further develop and improve driving skills.
"Vehicles, highways, and the driving environment have changed dramatically over the past 60 years, however driver education remains relatively unchanged in the U.S.," said Alexander Hobbach, Senior Manager of Business Innovation at Daimler AG. "Mercedes-Benz feels there is opportunity to better prepare teens for today's driving conditions, and while our offering will have premium pricing over existing schools, we are dedicated to delivering significant value based on unique coaching methods and curriculum that is aimed at teaching new teens how to drive safely."
The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy is working with several advisors in the finalization of its proprietary curriculum including Daniel R. Mayhew, Senior Vice President of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF); Allan Williams, Ph.D., former Chief Scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS); and Bill Combs, Executive Director of the Driver Education and Training Administrators and former Director of Communications at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
"A teenager's ability to drive safely should be one of the most important priorities for parents and it is extremely imperative that parents take a very active part in this process from researching driving schools to following through on supervised driving," said Mayhew.
Beyond curriculum development that sets new industry standards, The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy is building on strategic partnerships in an effort to raise awareness about teen driver safety and to also engage educators and parents to ultimately combat the leading cause of deaths among teens, which is motor vehicle crashes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy, in conjunction with Impact Teen Drivers, will be delivering a public service outreach program through 2-hour parent/teen workshops, delivered in local Los Angeles- area high schools. These workshops will raise awareness on the importance of teaching teens the proper way to drive. Through interactive work groups, parents and their children will discuss the responsibility they have to each other when it comes to driver education while acknowledging that driving is an important part of teenager's life that leads to more freedom and independence. With the help of the California PTA, approximately twenty schools will be identified to host the workshops beginning late summer.
"The opportunity to have Mercedes-Benz step-up to work with Impact Teen Drivers and law enforcement and education partners to offer driver safety seminars at no cost to Los Angeles-area schools is commendable," said Kelly Browning, PhD, executive director of Impact Teen Drivers. "It is crucial that we educate teens and empower them to promote the safe driving message in order to have a fundamental and sustained behavior shift. This isn't about bad kids doing bad things, but good kids making poor choices. One poor choice can alter or end their lives and the lives of those they care about."
Impact Teen Drivers, Inc., which was founded by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the California Teachers Association, and California Casualty, provides education to teens and parents regarding the dangers of reckless and distracted driving through breakthrough campaigns delivered online and in schools.
Committed to raising the level of driver education and increasing road safety, the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy continues Mercedes-Benz long-standing corporate dedication to driver safety. For continuous updates before the October 2011 opening and employment opportunities, please visit mbdrivingacademy.com for information.
About Mercedes-Benz USA
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all Mercedes-Benz and Maybach products in the United States. MBUSA offers drivers the most diverse line-up in the luxury segment with 12 model lines ranging from the sporty C-Class to the flagship S-Class sedans and the SLS AMG supercar.
MBUSA is also responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans in the US. More information on MBUSA and its products can be found at www.mbusa.com and www.mbsprinterusa.com.