'What a scary, yet amazing experience' - Wheels24 rookie takes her first advanced driving course

Image: Belinda Mocke
Image: Belinda Mocke

Ford recently hosted its Driving Skills For Life program at Killarney International Raceway, and although the focus was on safe driving, the automaker and the instructors made it a fun experience, says Wheels24's Leigh-Ann Londt.

The 'Blue Oval' automaker does not only host this program in SA but many countries around the world. Ford DSFL teaches drivers of all ages the necessary skills to be better drivers on the road.

The program addresses the "inexperience factor" and issues surrounding distracted driving, as well as provide fuel-efficient driving tips. The results over the years has been remarkable.

Upon my arrival on a cold June morning, I had no idea what to expect as it was my first time experiencing an advanced driving course. 

READ: Ford Driving Skills for Life

Ford's programs are available to anyone, and their curriculum for this event was well thought out. We started off with some theory to acquaint ourselves with core road-safety aspects and to get an idea of what tests we would be performing throughout the course. Thereafter the fun began in earnest.

Ford driving skills for life

                                                                    Image: Barloworld Ford Tygervalley 

We were split into groups with different colour arm bands for various activities which included: brake distance recognition, ABS, and EBD, hi-jack management, 4x4 driving, drunk driving simulation exercise, and distracted and impaired driving. I decided to hit the 4x4 course first.

4x4 Driving:

This was my first time off-road albeit on the race track's off-roading section. What a scary, yet amazing experience. The instructors were patient, and humorous, which made my first-time all the better due to the fact that I ignored my fears of driving the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Everest on such high hilltops to perform the hill-descent exercises.

You literally have to trust the tech and just steer as the vehicle drives itself down the elevated hill all by itself, managing the throttle and its brakes.

Ford driving skills for life

                                                                  Image: Barloworld Ford Tygervalley 

Brake-distance recognition, ABS and EBD:

My next course involved the Ford Kuga and learned how acceleration, deceleration and turns can affect vehicle balance. Overall, this course taught us how to recover from skids, what happens if you brake too hard and what to do if the vehicle slides out on the road. Crucially, we were taught not to panic and how to remedy the situation to avoid disaster.  

Avoiding a crash in the heat of the moment isn't easy but one thing you must remember to do, is remain calm. Most skids occur on slippery surfaces. In this case, just stop braking or accelerating. Your feet should be nowhere near the pedals, and lastly steer into the direction that appears safe. 

Ford driving skills for life

                                                                       Image: Barloworld Ford Tygervalley

Hi-jack Management:

Hi-jacking has become a top rated crime in SA. We were taught what to do if we encounter hijackers. One person commented"but what are the odds of us remembering what to do as it is a very scary experience to go through?"

Our instructor answered: "The main thing to do is remain calm and never to try and fight them away. Give them what they want as your life is way more important." 

Drunk driving simulation exercise: 

This course was tougher than the rest due to the instructor giving you a pair of goggles which impairs your vision to simulate being drunk behind the wheel. This was fun albeit nerve-wrecking as the main aim was not to hit any cones. 

Ford driving skills for life

                                                                        Image: Belinda Mocke

Overall, this was an amazing experience and it has given me more confidence and patience on the road.

Learning patience was the main issue I faced as a driver; when I'm presented by distracted or reckless drivers (who hasn't experienced them on our roads) I can react verbally.

After doing this course I personally feel that you do not need to speed to get to any destination whether you going to be late or not. A car crash can happen so easily and quickly, and risking your life on public roads is never worth it.

Ford has definitely made me a better driver through this course. I am sure the goal of decreasing our crash rate on the roads will be met. Remember, 'Your road is our road'. 

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