CHENNAI, India — Journalists and bloggers have been trained to be better drivers in a special session of Ford's Driving Skills For Life (DSFL) programme.
On Thursday, April 19, at Ford India's test track at the Maraimalai Nagar plant, the group watched as a car driven by an instructor came towards them at 60 km/h braking efficiently to come to a halt just short of a painted line. They then took up positions at the side of the road, where they thought the car would stop after being driven at 120 km/h and having the brakes applied at the same point on the track.
As the car came zooming in and screeched to a halt, they were shocked to see it pass all of them by.
The lesson - that when you double the speed, the breaking distance more than triples - helped demonstrate the need to maintain at least three seconds of stopping distance between vehicles, just one of the tips shared during the DSFL session.
“Much of the bad driving behavior on the roads comes from ignorance. By making people understand how the cars behave in action, and how their drivers behave, we make them aware of the correct actions and driving behaviour,” said Derek Kirkby, one of two expert driving trainers from the Advanced Driving Institute in South Africa who came to India last week for the session, which taught the trainees how to drive safely, responsibly and in an environment-friendly way.
"I'm glad to see people go back impressed and changed," said his colleague, Nick Osborne.
"We believe such refresher courses are a must for more and more drivers in India where roads are bad and traffic is in chaos.”
Before the media session, Ford India also unveiled "First Gear”, its guide for first-time car buyers, and rolled out its online “I Pledge to Drive Safe”, in the presence of Ford India’s executive director of Manufacturing, Tom Chackalackal, and Minnie Menon, a columnist and DSFL evangelist..
“India has one of the highest motor vehicle injury and fatality rate in the world and we believe driver education and refreshment through programs such as DSFL can help improve the situation,” Chackalackal told the journalists and bloggers at the session.
“After being trained in this programme, I’m sure you will emerge a better driver, always responsible and safe on India’s chaotic roads," said Menon, who read excerpts from the illustrated "First Gear" book to the trainees.
"I’ve seen drivers stop using their mobile phones while driving, ignore the constant honks of other bullying drivers behind them as they do what is right on the road and always reach their destination safe."
Menon and Chackalackal also took the pledge to drive safely. The pledge is available on Ford India’s Facebook community page, where drivers can enroll and share it among friends to encourage safe and responsible driving. Interested drivers can also sign up for a DSFL session near them.
The event also coincided with the culmination of Ford India's “Train the Trainers” programme. A total of 15 Ford employees have been trained to help the further push of DSFL into newer tier two cities and towns, including Ajmer, Chandigarh, Guwahati, Jaipur and Mehsana.
Introduced in India in 2009, DSFL is a regional program that focuses on helping combat the global epidemic of road fatalities. Since launch, the program has seen tremendous success in the country, with diverse driver groups. In total, around 4,500 Indian drivers have been trained in DSFL since 2009, and 50,000 people have gone through the training throughout Asia Pacific and Africa.
The DSFL session for the media and bloggers included classroom lessons and a practical, hands on component on Ford’s test track.
“The tips shared by the trainers are very practical and interesting. It will definitely help me become a better driver," said Grace Angel, a reporter from The New Indian Express.
“In spite of being an experienced driver, I found today that there was so much to learn," said P.Arokiavel, a reporter from Motor Vikatan, a leading auto publication in Tamil Nadu.
"I’ve learnt so much about effective breaking, maintaining the proper driving distance, and about changing gears. This is must-do training for anyone who cares to drive safe and anyone who cares for their lives.”
Menon , Chackalackal and DSFL trainers pledge their support to the ‘I Pledge to Drive Safe’ online campaign to promote safe and responsible driving in Chennai on Thursday.
DSFL practical session for media at Ford India’s 25-mile test track Maraimalai Nagar plant, Chennai.