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WORLD RALLY STARS HELP AUSTRALIAN ROAD SAFETY PROGRAM

World Rally stars Ken Block and Mikko Hirvonen have visited Coffs Harbour High School to participate in a key youth driving scheme.

The Ford drivers, who will compete in this weekend’s Rally Australia event, met with Year 10 students to talk about the importance of road safety as part of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport’s Ignition program.

The CAMS Ignition program is part of the FIA’s Action for Road Safety Campaign, which in turn supports the UN’s Decade of Action – a program that aims to save five million lives globally by 2020.

The Monster World Rally Team’s Ken Block said it was important for kids to develop healthy attitudes to road safety early in life.“I get all of my aggression out in a controlled environment, when I’m racing,” said Block. “And I urge everyone that wants to do that, and learn about controlling a car, to do it on closed roads."

“But when I’m on public roads I drive so slowly – you have to."

“It’s really important for young people to be learning about what to do, and what not to do, on the road as early as possible.”

Hirvonen, a 13-time WRC round winner, said that safety was an important part of the sport of rallying.“The cars are made as safe as possible, and we are always looking at the roads – evaluating if there needs to be changes made to make them safer,” he said.

“If we feel that there are dangers, we have to speak to the organisers about changing those things."

“As you do on the road, you always need to treat safety as the first priority.”

As part of Ignition, CAMS, the governing body of four-wheel sport, will accredit thirty car clubs across Australia in 2011 to give vital pre-licence training to teenage road users. The course directly addresses issues such as road-rage and vehicle dynamics, and is intended to make young drivers much more aware of their responsibilities.

The Ignition program curriculum could be incorporated into more than 400 car clubs, and is open to pre-licence students from 12 years of age.

Earlier this year, Jean Todt, president of the world governing body of motorsport, the FIA, announced a major financial contribution towards the program.

Mr Todt, presented CAMS with $125,000 on behalf of the FIA Motor Sport Safety Development Fund to part-fund the Ignition program.