With California being the hottest market for hybrid vehicles, it makes sense that a California-based driver training company would begin using a fleet of exclusively hybrid vehicles including Toyota Prius's and Ford Escapes. Drivers Ed Direct hopes to instill some environmental responsibility in the students by exposing them to hybrids early. Another potential advantage if done correctly is the use of SUVs like the Escape. In recent years a lot of parents have given their teenagers an SUV in the mistaken impression that they are safer. Unfortunately SUVs have vastly different handling characteristics from the old Neons, Escorts and Grand Ams typically used for most driver training. Teenagers inherently tend to drive faster than they should. If they do all their training in a car and then jump into an SUV they are far more likely to get into an accident. By getting some early exposure to SUV handling characteristics under supervised conditions, hopefully they will learn to handle them with a little more respect (yeah right!). Hopefully, they are doing more than teaching parallel parking with the Escapes.
Drivers of all ages need to learn about the limit handling behavior of different types of vehicles under safe controlled conditions. Hopefully they are also stressing that it's not necessary to to pull away from every stop sign and traffic light at full throttle. Since most driver training involves lots of stop and go and around town driving, at least they will be able to get the full benefit of the hybrid from a fuel economy stand-point. I just wish they offered their service where I live in Michigan, because my daughter just started driver's ed last week.
[Source: Ford Motor Co.]