Squealing tires in a new Ford Mustang ranks very low on the list of legitimate reasons for high school students to miss class...unless it’s done in the context of valuable driver training, that is. Ford Canada, through their Ford Fund charitable arm, has managed to make it happen for some lucky Canadian students.

Ford’s Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) is an international young drivers’ program that has expanded to include four stops across Canada: Windsor, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver.

Teaming up with professional drivers and officers from local police forces, students aged 16 and up with valid drivers licenses get to drive the Fusion, Focus, Escape, and Mustang (which is undoubtedly the biggest draw).

They navigate through a series of driving routes and simulations to get hands-on experience and education in key areas including handling skids, accident avoidance, emergency braking, distracted driving, and impaired driving.

“It’s well established that young drivers are statistically more likely to have accidents,” explains Caroline Hughes, Vice President of Government Relations at Ford Canada. Meant to augment traditional driver training, “Ford is offering the course free of charge as a way to get out into and give back to the community.”

When asked to choose just one word to sum up the program, 16-year-old participant Michael says with little hesitation “awesome!” He’s back this year for the second time, and loves the Mustang oversteer activity because “we try things that we can’t really do out on the road.”

In this program we see that newly licensed drivers and powerful cars can be a good mix. “While cars are incredibly safe these days, it’s the individual that dictates what they do with the car,” motorsports expert and Canadian program liaison Dave Drimmie explains. Giving student drivers the chance to skid a Mustang (modified to sit on casters that make it skid more readily) in a controlled learning environment not only helps them acquire useful skills; it also helps them understand the importance of good decision-making. And it happens to be a lot of fun.

Navigating a simple route marked by cones becomes significantly more challenging when students don Fatal Vision goggles, which introduce varying degrees of visual impairment meant to simulate intoxication. We hear cones going “pop, pop, pop” as we all ride along with John, wearing goggles that represent twice the legal level of blood alcohol.

With distracted driving overtaking impaired driving as a leading cause of fatal accidents amongst young drivers, the program also tests drivers’ abilities to follow a simple route and obey road signs along the way. Drivers with their eyes on the road think it’s a breeze but when these same students repeat the same route while texting on a phone, we hear plenty of giggles and see many red faces appear. That same simple drive becomes nearly impossible to repeat.

It really is an eye-opening experience and the most fun we can have in cars travelling at low speed. “High school is a light 7 out of 10,” Michael reveals, “but driving school today is a solid 10!”

The Ford Driving Skills for Life program had a session in Windsor this spring, the Toronto course wraps up today, and the program returns with stops in Calgary and Vancouver later this fall.

Source: CTV News


Last updated on: 2015-05-28 | Link to this post