We still remember that summer. While most teens our age were at the beach, we were in a darkened classroom with eight other students learning driver’s ed through an extended course offered at the high school. After sitting through an uninspired lecture and an industrial film that we seem to recall was so old it featured Model Ts, it was time to actually drive!
Driver’s training has come a long way, baby! This week, Ford Motor Company Fund and the Governors Highway Safety Association will begin the ninth year of Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) in the U.S., a program that sets out to improve the skills of drivers. Although the U.S. arm of DSFL focuses on teens, China and other Asia Pacific markets have expanded in this, their fifth year, to include first-time drivers of all ages. While DSFL isn’t meant to replace traditional driver’s training, it is a great opportunity for teens to learn more about vehicle control.
The U.S. DSFL tour will hit 30 high schools in five states, where Ford will bring a transporter with specially equipped vehicles as well as pro drivers. Activities are geared toward improving skills and providing hands-on instruction in four key areas: driver distraction, speed/space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition. DSFL provides free professional driver instruction, a Web-based curriculum, state grants and materials.
DSFL reached 35,000 teen drivers on the high school tour last year and the same number is expected to participate this year. Reducing the number of traffic fatalities and injuries remains the key mission for DSFL in the Ford global markets, where the program utilizes training to enhance the learning process and bridge the experience gap for new drivers. Many DSFL participants in Asia are first-time drivers, as the region’s emerging economies are driving a rapid rise in vehicle ownership. So far, 50,000 have participated in the program across Asia with another 12,000 expected in 2012.
Ford DSFL continues to provide interactive Web-based training called “The Academy” on www.drivingskillsforlife.com, and free materials upon request for students, educators, parents and community organizations.