Ford motors is rolling out a Driving Skills for Life program to train drivers on safe road use, fuel economy and environmental preservation. We cannot afford to ignore the high number of accidents on our roads and gone are the days when we insisted that matatus are the major culprits in causing accidents. Now even some private cars are not behaving any better on the roads. Driver education is certainly relevant given that more roads are being constructed around the country, more and more people are buying cars, and there is therefore a significant percentage of first time car buyers/users on our roads.
The Ford Driving Skills for Life program will include both classroom training as well as practical learning to help educate drivers of all ages on safe and economical driving practices. The curriculum will cover skills such as hazard recognition, vehicle handling as well as management of speed and space among other things.
I spent a day at one of the trainings which took place at National Industrial Training Authority college in Athi River. Other than training us on road use, Ford also let us drive some of the vehicles for practicals, and also watch demos performed by their own drivers.
Some of the things we learnt both in class and practically courtesy of Ford Motors were proper positioning of the body to avoid or at least minimize personal injury in case of a crash. The trainers who had come from South Africa taught us how to be in the perfect position for maximum safety while driving. Examples are the angle at which a driver should bend their hands so that impact does not go beyond the elbows, the angle at which the knees should be bent so that impact does not get to the back bone, and how to position the backrest to protect from neck injuries.
We also learned how to identify and work with blind spots to avoid accidents.
The curriculum is much bigger than these points but here are some examples of tips and lessons to remember on the road.
- Adjust your car seat so that your feet rest comfortably on the pedals with your knees slightly bent. In case of a collision, shockwaves will be absorbed a the knee and this may save you from a back injury. Same goes for elbows. Hold the steering wheel so that your hands a bent at the elbows. In case of a crash your elbow will take the impact, as opposed to snapping and causing injury further up.
- Other than wearing a seatbelt yourself, always make sure that your passengers wear them too. An unsecured passenger can project forward due to impact and injure or kill you. This negates the fact that you were secured yourself.
- Check tyre pressure at least once a week or every time you fuel. A tyre can lose upto half its pressure without appearing deflated. Improper tyre pressure strains the car and increases fuel consumption. More importantly, it will reduce the resistance of the car in case of an accident especially in the event of rolling. Always check the spare tyre is in good shape too. I’m particularly guilty of dumping mine under the car and forgetting about it and I’ve since taken it out and checked.
- Remove unnecessary weight from your vehicle and only load stuff when you’re actually going to use or transport it. use lover speeds when transporting heavy things. If you’re only playing golf on Wednesday for example, what’s the point of carrying weighty equipment all days of the week?
- As much as you may have perfectly adjusted your side mirrors, always be observant and look around. Side mirrors do not completely eliminate blind spots so combine these with your own keenness. If for example you’re overtaking, look over your shoulders to see whether there’s any vehicle in your blind spots.
- Idling consumes fuel. For example, 3 minutes of idling is equivalent to 1Km at a constant 50kph in terms of fuel consumption. You can’t always avoid idling by learning to switch off your engine selectively. If there’s heavy traffic ahead for example, at closed gates and whole loading and unloading, access the situation and wisely pick between switching off engine and idling.
- Avoid braking and accelerating in jerks. Scan the road ahead and take your foot off the petrol pedal before you need to stop so that you glide easy first before applying brakes. Revving and breaking unnecessarily hard is a waste of fuel and it will not get you to your destination any sooner anyway. Economic driving not only saves you fuel, we have an environment to preserve too.
- Driving requires 100% concentration. People have been known to do so many things while driving. Eating, reading, texting, retouching make-up, and talking on phone among other things that you have no business doing while driving. Apparently even knitting and changing from office wear to club wear. When it comes to phone use, even talking wirelessly does not make it ok. The subject of your phone call may interfere with your mood and concentration. Avoiding the mobile phone is not for the cops, rather for your safety.
- Do not be too close to the steering wheel. We’ve all seen those drivers who stay so close they’re almost lying on it. Any less than 15cm away and in case of a crash, the chest would be badly hit. I’m thinking this may even interfere with deployment of airbags.
- Always maintain a distance of at least 3 seconds from the vehicle ahead. In special situations like bad weather, night time or road constructions, increase this time.
- Last but not least for this article, be courteous and patient with fellow drivers. Give people way for example. It does not cost you a thing.
As mentioned earlier, The training in Athi River was not all practical. We had a cool time doing practicals with the Ford machines too and here are a few videos.
— Shiko-Msa (@Shiko_Msa) September 23, 2016
— Shiko-Msa (@Shiko_Msa) September 23, 2016
— HapaKenya (@Hapakenya) September 23, 2016