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Lifelong Driving Lessons from Ford Driving Skills for Life

I spent last weekend in a rainy cold Washington DC airport parking lot.  I wasn’t headed anywhere exotic or special. In fact that’s exactly where I was supposed to be. I was invited to learn all about Ford’s Driving Skills for Life program.

Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) was established in 2003 by Ford Motor Company Fund, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and a panel of safety experts to teach newly licensed teens the necessary skills for safe driving beyond what they learn in standard driver education programs.

Ford Driving Skills For Life Program

What makes DSFL different than a typical Defensive Driving course is the on-road experience that is taught by real experts.  The instructors are TOP NOTCH professional drivers from all around the world. Resumes include professional racers, auto enthusiasts and stunt drivers. These credentials make them ideal to teach inexperienced drivers how to handle not just the road but the car in times of distraction and adverse conditions.

The program focuses on 4 key skill sets that can not only keep drivers safe but keep them and others alive.

Hazard Recognition

  • Approaching and turning left at intersections
  • The point of no return
  • How to scan for trouble
  • Minimizing distractions
  • Safety zones
  • Minimum eye lead time

Vehicle Handling

  • Contact patches and load shifts
  • How acceleration, deceleration, braking and turns affect vehicle balance
  • Shifting loads gradually
  • Adjusting to your vehicle’s size and weight
  • Conventional braking systems versus anti-lock braking systems (ABS)
  • Emergency braking techniques

Space Management

  • Maintaining space around, ahead of and behind your vehicle
  • Learning how to adjust your speed
  • Maintaining a safe following distance
  • How to avoid being rear-ended
  • Avoiding a head-on crash

Speed Management

  • How to stay in contact with the road
  • Driving at a speed that doesn’t impede
  • How to recover from skids in both front- and rear-wheel drive vehicles
  • Using proper signals and covering the brake

During my visit to the program we were given the opportunity to test different courses to try our hands at maneuvering through obstacles with blurred vision goggles, driving while texting and correcting over steering.

Ford Driving Skills for Life

Impaired Driving Simulation

The program was an eye-opener to say the least. I consider myself an experienced driver, a cautious driver but what I didn’t know was that Vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teenagers in America. 4 million new teen drivers are licensed every year, and half of them will be involved in a crash before they turn 20.

That news is devastating but I know that by the time I was 20 I was already in 3-4 accidents, none of them serious thankfully. Unfortunately Sabreena wasn’t able to go with me as she’s working hard to finish her senior year of high school but I’m going to be on the lookout for the next DSFL tour in our area.  While I believe she is a safe driver I know there is so much more she can learn to better her skills.

Find out more information about the entire program and how to take part in a tour in your area.