CHENNAI, India — Despite India being a signatory to UN's 'Decade of Action' programme to reduce road deaths by 50% during this decade, road fatalities in India increased from 1.32 lakh in 2010 to 1.43 lakh in 2011, as per statistics from World Health Organization (WHO).
Society for Automotive Fitness & Environment (SAFE), a sister concern of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) that deals with road safety, noted in its annual report that “India is losing the most productive people in road accidents as 80% of victims are in the age group of 15 to 40 – a loss which an emerging economic power like India cannot afford.” The society also recommends joint efforts by several stakeholders to reduce the casualties.
As a leading carmaker, Ford India has been doing its bit to ensure road safety in India. As part of its commitment to promote a better and safer driving community, it is offering free training to promote safe, economic and eco-friendly driving across the sub-continent.
Ford India’s Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) programme is finding increasing acceptance among customers and other driving groups across the country as reflected by its overwhelming success over the past three years.
This year, Ford India has trained 3071 people in safe, economic and eco-friendly driving practices across the country. It has also rolled out an online campaign ‘I Pledge to Drive Safe’ on its social media channels to engage and enroll new drivers.
“Safe is one of the key brand pillars for Ford and it’s a mindset when we build cars, at our manufacturing sites or raising awareness on road sense. With the DSFL program we intend to sensitize Indian drivers to make our roads safer and this training shows them how they too can be a safe, responsible and environment-friendly driver,” said Vinay Piparsania, Ford India's executive director, Marketing, Sales and Service. “This is a robust programme that benefits from insights gained from our expertise in this industry and other regional markets, and we are committed to bring it to more people in India in the days ahead.”
Launched in August 2009, more than 7000 people have successfully completed the DSFL training in India which included special sessions for the Traffic Police in Chandigarh, Chennai and Delhi, IAF cadets, Rotary Clubs and Madras Cosmopolitan Round Table (MCRT), college students, fleet owners and dealers.
The programme mixes classroom learning and practical training and has been customised for India to reflect the local driving environment and road conditions.
This year, the programme has covered varied audiences—from college students to cadets of the Indian Air Force and members of Chandigarh Press Club, among others, across the country. In September, a session for the Air Force cadets in Chennai saw an overwhelming response with 500 cadets trained. “Indeed, it was encouraging to see the cadets asking many questions and paying keen attention to our practical sessions. The session was also appreciated by their seniors”, said Sarvanan, a DSFL trainer.
Similarly, 35 journalists from various publications attended and appreciated a training session held at Chandigarh Press Club this month. ”Undoubtedly, this is an informative programme for both new and seasoned drivers that busts many myths and makes us aware about safe driving. Thanks to Ford for passionately espousing this noble cause,” said Sukhbir Singh Bajwa, President of the Press Club.
At last week's training session at IRT grounds in Taramani, Chennai, over 35 members of the Ford Global Business Services took part. "This is an effective and exciting programme for it informs us about many previously unknown facts on safe, responsible and economical driving, plus lots of practical tips. The demonstration on ideal breaking distance was an eye opener," said Lokesh Jasrotia, one of the participants.
To further support its DSFL programme, Ford India has also unveiled ‘First Gear,’ a must-have handbook for first time car buyers that incorporates handy tips on how to choose your car, how to become a safe driver and the online campaign ‘I Pledge to Drive Safe’ on its Facebook page.
Through the online campaign, drivers are invited to take their pledges and take a step towards making Indian roads safer. The pledge also has an application which allows interested drivers to ‘raise their hands’ to enroll in DSFL and Ford India will conduct sessions for them.
Ford India has also reached out to top online influencers across India who have participated in session and taken the momentum further by taking pledges and sharing their driving tips, and engaging conversations around safe driving on Facebook and Twitter.” I have hugely benefitted from my participation in the Driving Skills for Life programme, as have several Team BHPians. Ford India’s road safety initiatives are indeed making a difference and leading to better, safer drivers on Indian roads,” said Rush Parekh, founder-member of TeamBHP, a leading online auto portal.
Chandigarh Traffic Policemen after a DSFL session in 2012.
Mediamen being trained at a practical session on Ford India’s test-track.