Attending a Level 1 Driver Dynamics defensive driving course at Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway – as part of the AFL’s player welfare initiative – a handful of first- and second-year North Melbourne Football Club players tackled a day of theory and practical learning.
Under the watchful eye of Driver Dynamics founder Kevin Flynn and lead instructor Chris DeJager, seven of the team’s freshest young guns joined their captain Andrew Swallow in negotiating cones, skids, emergency stops, and a slalom in a variety of Mazda 3s and CX-5s.
Highlighting the importance for all companies and organisations to consider driver training for all drivers, and not just new drivers, Kevin Flynn said it comes down to the basics.
“The most likely way you’re going to get killed or injured at work is driving a company car, so we think it’s quite important,” Flynn said.
Explaining to CarAdvice why the club is supportive of such driver training programs, Kangaroos player welfare manager Neil Connell said, “Today is a part of our induction program that we run over the first 12 months.”
“And we thought that this is really invaluable for the boys today, just for their education. And not only just the driving part of it but the classroom component, which educates them more on safety issues within their car that I don’t think they would have thought of previously," he said.
“Even being an experienced driver, you’re always learning more and more along the way, hence why it’s extremely important for these young fellas to get that training early in their driving career.”
Before he and his newest teammates jumped into the cars, ‘Roos captain – and Mazda ambassador – Andrew Swallow told CarAdvice, “I think when I first got down to the club, 10 or 11 years ago, we did something pretty similar out here, so we’ll see what I took from that day.”
With the day of fun and learning complete, it was clear which key safe driving messages had sunk in.
“For me, I think I’ve learnt that it’s pretty easy to crash,” second-year Daniel Nielson told CarAdvice.
“You need a lot more room than you first anticipate and you’ve got to leave a bigger space between the cars in front of you,” added first-year Declan Mountford.
Mazda has been a major partner of the North Melbourne Football Club since 1999, with the signing of a new contract earlier this year securing the relationship continues until at least the end of the 2019 season, locking in what will be a 21-year partnership.
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