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Zubin Antalia is Maruti Suzuki-Autocar Young Driver 2009

This is a nationwide search for India’s best young driving talent and a Mumbai lad has won the inaugural Maruti Suzuki-Autocar Young Driver contest, beating 32 competitors from across the country.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2009 18:54 IST

Zubin Antalia from Mumbai has won the inaugural Maruti Suzuki-Autocar Young Driver contest, beating 32 other competitors from across the country.

Maruti Suzuki-Autocar Young Driver 2009 is a nationwide search for India’s best young driving talent. This competition tested the competitors’ knowledge of traffic rules, awareness of road safety along with their real-world driving skill. The contest was open to all individuals, between the age of 18 and 30 years, with a valid driving license.

The two-month long contest – held across 12 cities with over 4,000 participants – reflects Maruti Suzuki’s efforts to mobilize young drivers to create safe driving awareness. The competition is a part of the company's National Road Safety Mission, which was launched in December 2008 to impart driving training to at least five lakh people in the next three years.

At the national finals of the Young Driver 2009 contest, held at the Institute of Driving Training and Research (IDTR), Sarai Kale Khan, today, thirty-three contestants showcased their driving skills on the test tracks of the institute.

While giving away a brand new A-star as the grand prize, Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Executive Officer (Marketing and Sales) Mayank Pareek said, "India is the number one nation in the world in road accident fatalities with over one lakh deaths every year on our roads. Around 78% of these accidents happen due to the drivers’ fault. We suffer from low awareness on the need for quality driving training and lack of modern infrastructure for the same. Maruti Suzuki has been actively introducing world class driving training and infrastructure across country through Maruti Driving Schools and IDTRs. Young Driver Contest is one more step to create awareness among the general public."

“We believe that the young people of this country hold the key in road safety promotion. These are the same people, who are getting affluent and buying their own cars. That’s why Maruti Suzuki has chosen the youth of India to be its brand ambassador for this cause”, he added. Zubin Antalia was chosen to be Maruti Suzuki’s ambassador for safe driving and promoting road safety awareness.

Hormazd Sorabjee, Editor, Autocar India, sharing insights from the national event said, “The general lack of awareness of traffic rules and safety was evident from the online tests with just 13 out of the 4,000 drivers clocking a full score. A huge majority of drivers, about 47%, scored between 50-74 marks and 22.4% scored less than 50 marks in the virtual phase of the contest. In the simulator test, which focuses on road discipline amongst drivers, a lot of veteran and expert drivers faced hiccups in controlling the simulated car, driving within speed limit, honking when required and other good driving practices. Through this initiative, we want to encourage a safe driving culture among the young drivers today.”

The Young Driver 2009 contest was held in three phases. In the first phase, competitors had to register for an online theory test on traffic rules, awareness of road safety and knowledge of their cars. Of the 4,031 contestants, who had participated at this stage, around 1,000 contestants were short-listed for second stage conducted at 16 Maruti Driving Schools across 12 cities and 2 IDTRs at Delhi.

However, the list was further whittled down to only 654 people. They went through the next stage of theory and practical test on the driving simulator. The top 33 contestants among them were declared as qualified for the final stage of the contest.

During this final stage of the evaluation which took place this morning at the IDTR, Sarai Kale Khan, the contestants underwent an actual driving test under the keen eye of Maruti Suzuki’s driving instructors and judges from Autocar India. Contestants were evaluated on parameters such as smoothness, vehicle control and presence of mind during emergency situations.