NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt recently featured a report showing students walking and driving as if they were drunk. The students were not actually drunk, but were wearing body weights and goggles that simulated the feeling of having had too much to drink, part of Ford Driving Skills for Life, a free program that teaches teens and adults about the hazards of impaired and distracted driving.
As Kevin Tibbles reports, the teens wear a “drunk suit” with weights that put them off balance, and “drunk goggles” that blur and distort their vision. The blurred vision causes the teens to feel disoriented, and things become scary, the video says.
Ford Driving Skills for Life (FDSFL) is a partnership between the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, and a panel of safety experts, according to drivingskillsforlife.com. The program is designed to teach teens who have just gotten their drivers licenses the skills they need to drive safely — skills not covered in typical driver education programs, the FDSFL website says.
As FDSFL writes, nearly 3,000 teens are killed annually in the U.S. due to car accidents, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those crashes are due to the inexperience of the young drivers and to distracted and impaired driving. The Ford Driving Skills for Life program has been in existence for 10 years and has shown “outstanding results,” FDSFL writes.
Teens and adults who take the course improve their skills in “four key areas that are critical factors in more than 60% of vehicle crashes,” FDSFL writes. The areas include:
1) Hazard Recognition
- The point of no return
- How to scan for trouble
- Minimizing distractions
- Safety zones
- Minimum vision lead time
- Approaching and turning left at intersection
2) Vehicle Handling
- Contact road patches
- How acceleration, deceleration, braking, and turns affect vehicle balance
- Adjusting to a vehicle’s size and weight
- How to recover from skids in front- and rear-wheel drive vehicles
3) Speed Management
- Driving at a speed that doesn’t endanger or impede others
- Using proper signals and covering the brake
- Conventional braking systems versus anti-lock braking (ABS) systems
- Emergency braking techniques
4) Space Management
- Maintaining space around, ahead of, and behind your vehicle
- Learning how to adjust speed
- Maintaining a safe distance between vehicles
- How to avoid being rear-ended and avoiding a head-on crash
The program includes ride-and-drives, in which students get behind the wheel with a professional instructor at their side. It also features “The Academy,” a learning section of the Driving Skills for Life website, with car care videos, interactive games, and an enhanced curriculum; plus a free download of a packet that includes an in-depth video focusing on the program’s four major driving skills, letters for parents and educators, a leader’s guide, and brochures.