Ex­pert calls for scrutiny on par­ents’ road safety


AN SUV for the pres­tige mar­ket seg­ment and a small elec­tric car are planned for Aus­tralia’s next new player, Opel.

The Ger­man arm of Gen­eral Mo­tors says it plans to ex­pand its model range with a cross­over SUV that will be launched in about four years.

It will be joined by a small elec­tric hatch­back based on the Barina-sized Corsa and ex­pect to play a ma­jor role in af­firm­ing Opel’s po­si­tion in the Aus­tralian mar­ket­place.

Opel is ex­pected to en­ter the Aus­tralian mar­ket in a co-share ar­range­ment with Holden early next year.

Mod­els are ex­pected to in­clude the Camry-size In­signia, As­tra—

Opel is ex­pected to en­ter the Aus­tralian mar­ket in a co-share ar­range­ment with Holden early next year

pos­si­bly in­clud­ing the GTC — and Corsa. The Corsa range could in­clude the 151kW/280Nm OPC hot hatch.

Opel vice-pres­i­dent for busi­ness and prod­uct plan­ning Frank We­ber says all mod­els in the range are un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for Aus­tralia.

Opel CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke is on record as say­ing he wants to ex­pand Opel’s range and global ter­ri­tory out­side of its tra­di­tional Euro­pean base.

‘‘I be­lieve that we can achieve a level of about 150,000 ve­hi­cles that we can sell an­nu­ally out­side Europe in three years’ time,’’ he says, adding that par­ent GM is com­fort­able with that ex­pan­sion as long as it is prof­itable and com­ple­ments GM’s other brands — in this case, Holden. Opel be­gins de­liv­er­ies to Ar­gentina and Chile late this year and to China and Aus­tralia next year.

The move to a small elec­tric car — to com­ple­ment Opel’s ex­ist­ing Volt-based Am­pera elec­tric sedan — co­in­cides with the Ger­man Gov­ern­ment an­nounc­ing an ad­di­tional $1.4 bil­lion for re­search and de­vel­op­ment aid for elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

That fig­ures dou­bles the Gov­ern­ment’s pre­vi­ous in­vest­ment in the tech­nol­ogy.

The ad­di­tional funds in­clude tax re­bates, ded­i­cated park­ing places and mea­sures aimed at pro­mot­ing gov­ern­ment use of elec­tric cars.

Ger­many aims to have one mil­lion elec­tric ve­hi­cles on its roads by 2020.

PAR­ENTS should be as­sessed for driv­ing abil­ity be­fore they teach their chil­dren to drive, says a na­tional road safety ex­pert.

The call by road safety ex­pert and Fa­tal­ity Free Fri­day founder Rus­sell White comes in the wake of a US sur­vey show­ing most teenagers wit­ness their par­ents driv­ing dan­ger­ously.

The Ford sur­vey found that 95 per cent of par­ents claim to be safe driv­ers, but 82 per cent of their teenage chil­dren have wit­nessed their par­ents en­gag­ing in un­safe driv­ing be­hav­iour like tex­ting while they were driv­ing, talk­ing on a mo­bile phone, or speed­ing.

Mr White says the sur­vey by Ford re­flects sim­i­lar at­ti­tudes in Aus­tralia.

He says it is sig­nif­i­cant that 78 per cent of teens say their par­ents have ‘‘a lot of in­flu­ence’’ on the way they will drive.

‘‘The ex­am­ple they set is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal in shap­ing fu­ture driv­ers,’’ Mr White said. ‘‘It’s clear by the num­ber of re­spon­dents that stated they had seen their par­ents un­der­tak­ing un­safe driv­ing be­hav­iours such as tex­ting, speed­ing, talk­ing on a mo­bile phone and break­ing road rules, that the in­flu­ence of par­ents’ road be­hav­iour needs to be im­proved.

‘‘This raises ques­tions re­gard­ing our log book sys­tem and on the over­all suitabil­ity of many driv­ers to ef­fec­tively coach new driv­ers.’’

He called for ei­ther a grad­u­ated li­cens­ing sys­tem for all driv­ers or ex­tra li­cens­ing for any­one who trains a learner driver.

‘‘There are some coun­tries in Europe that do an as­sess­ment on par­ents’ abil­ity to teach learner driv­ers,’’ he said.

‘‘If some­one is a se­rial traf­fic of­fender or not a good driver you have to ask: Are they suit­able to teach kids?’’

Mr White says par­ents have a role to play in driver ed­u­ca­tion, ‘‘pro­vided we are all singing from the same hymn book’’.

‘‘We of­ten hear learner driv­ers say their mum and dad say some­thing dif­fer­ent to what the pro­fes­sional driver-train­ers are telling them,’’ he said.

The Ford sur­vey also found 82 per cent of par­ents ex­pressed in­ter­est in putting their chil­dren through driver train­ing pro­grams, but fewer than 20 per cent ac­tu­ally did so.

Mr White says a greater pri­or­ity should be placed on not only en­hanc­ing the li­cens­ing sys­tem but also in pro­vid­ing in­cen­tives to un­der­take fur­ther driver train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.

‘‘It’s about al­ter­ing the over­all road cul­ture,’’ he said.

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