Friday the 13th of December seemed like the perfect day to get behind the wheel of some beautiful cars and learn a thing or two about road safety!

Many other influencers and bloggers (including myself) were given the opportunity to partake in their Driving Skills for Life programme which included an array of different activities and talks from the people who know what they’re doing – as much fun as the day was, it was an eye opening experience on how necessary it is to help bring awareness to road safety especially during the festive season! 

With that said, LET’S GET STARTED!

To start the day we were welcomed by the very enthusiastic Ford team, there was fresh coffee available thanks to Barmotion and BlendaVenda showed us how we could blend our own smoothie while cycling (Crazy right!?) needless to say, that made all of us giggle and was very entertaining to watch. Never have I seen people blend their smoothies so intently! OH! And let me not forget the snazzy Ford cap we were given to protect us from getting blinded from the event being too lit (ok, I admit that was cringe but I couldn’t help myself)

Once everyone had fuelled themselves with some good coffee and had some fun with the BlendaVenda team, we got down to business. We were formally welcomed and given a presentation from a very interesting and well knowledgeable representative of Master Drive SA. The event was essentially aimed to highlight road safety during the silly season and because I was one of the lucky ones to experience the day in the front seat, I feel it is also my responsibility to bring awareness to the issues that lie at hand.

Did you know that the Driving Skills for Life Programme hosted by ford is not only free but is also an international programme? These people clearly mean business! 

There were so many important points I took away from that presentation, so many interesting facts and some that kind of had me going “you can’t be serious!?” like how eating your fries in your car is actually illegal according to the law. I know right, that made everyone in the room give out a little laugh. 

Here are some pointers that caught my attention;

Seatbelts

It’s common knowledge for the driver and the passenger to wear their seat belts but if your passengers don’t wear their seatbelts is it their responsibility or theirs if they don’t wear their seatbelt? As the driver it’s yours. 

Your car, your responsibility. The lives of those in your car are now in your hands and as scary as that sounds, it is the truth. Those people are trusting you to get them safely to the next destination so it is your duty to ensure that they are strapped in. 

Many people don’t wear their seatbelts at the back of the car because they think they’re protected by the front seats but that’s not true. Did you know that when an individual gets into an accident their body mass and their bone becomes 30x more than what it normally is. That means 30x more weight and pressure being added onto whoever is in front of you or even onto the windshield. So next time you have passengers, front and back – make sure they have their seatbelts on before setting off to wherever it is you are heading to!  

Want to know how to save fuel?

Let’s start off with this fun fact: Did you know that every 3 minutes you spend idling your car it is known to be the equivalent to driving 1km at 50km/h. WHAT!? You might say but it’s true! That’s why if you are expecting to stop and idle for more than 20 seconds whether it be during traffic or at a red robot, it’s better to switch off a warm engine. (And before those tech junkies come at me, no switching your car on and off does not damage the starter switch or decrease it’s life; it’s there for a reason. Technology is amazing)  

We were also taught to save fuel, you need to change gears between 1500-2500 rpm (you can thank me later when your road trip bill is less than usual) as well as keeping your car as light as possible, the heavier it is the more fuel used. 

They did a study where the Ford members drove from the ford dealership in JHB to a set destination for a week driving at the speed limit and maintaining the correct distance (which is 6 seconds behind the car when you have poor visibility and 3 seconds behind a car when you have clear visibility) and you know what, they only lost 1 minute and 12 secs. 

Now I want to ask you, do you think it’s worth risking your lives and the lives of others on the road to get to your destination a minute or so earlier? I think not. Drive safely and responsibly!

Mirrors

This may seem like a boring one but it’s always the boring points that are most important. 

First of all, if you get into your car and you cannot see the road out of your review or side mirrors, you need to fix that, like yesterday already! 

It is important to always check your mirrors and make sure they are positioned so you have the best view of the road and cars behind you, there is a reason they are there people! Use them! 

We were taught a little trick: For your review mirror, you should be able to see the top of your left ear and with the side mirrors you should be able to see the handle of your back doors and if you are in a 3 door car, then just the sides of your car.

Texting and Driving

Did you know more collisions are happeninnot because of drinking and driving but because of texting and driving?

All too often I see people on Social Media filming themselves driving or of the beautiful sunset that they’re driving past and honestly, there is nothing that is so important that you should feel the need to take your attention off the road to take a cute video of the sunset and if you feel a bit offended reading that, you are part of the issue! It’s not worth risking your life and the lives of those around you. 

Ignorance is NOT bliss and Knowledge is Power. 

After the very impressive and interesting presentation hosted by Derek, we moved onto the 5 activities that Ford had set up for us which i’m not going to lie, some of them made me nervous but they pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to learn and do things I wouldn’t normally do! 

Sleep Suit Activity

This was the first activity I participated in that took place inside. 

Initially I had no idea what to expect with this activity. I thought we were going to get put into some suit and I would fall asleep immediately but logically, that would teach us nothing so I had a bit of a ‘Jeanna moment’.

First off, each individual got the chance to try on the weighted suit and weights attached to one of their arms and the opposite leg to that, then the individual would walk out a mapped out area responding to the trainer who had a Stop or Go sign to tell them when to move. Then they repeated the activity using some goggles to distract them that would allow them to see and then all of a sudden not see. I found it really interesting how when the goggles blacked out, some individuals continued walking (guilty) which is the equivalent to someone continuing to drive once they have fallen asleep! 

The objective of this activity was to highlight the importance of getting enough sleep before heading out on a long trip, or even just in general. Many people fall asleep behind the wheel due to lack of rest and they may just be travelling short distances. On that note, If you are planning to go away with some friends or family, it is important to take breaks often, have a rotation system of drivers so everyone gets a sufficient amount of rest and if you feel like you need to sleep and you are behind the wheel, pull over and sleep! 

Sleep Suit Activity

Reaction Board – Drunk / Drug Driving Activity

This one was probably one of my most favorite of the day. It was so simple, yet so effective and surprised almost everyone! 

How it worked: Each individual would engage in a thirty second attempt to hit a lit button that would randomly light up, the goal is to hit as many lit buttons as possible first time round and see how close you could get to it the second time but the second time there was a twist! 

The second time round individuals did the same thing but wearing goggles that simulate being drunk or under the influence of some sort by blurring your vision intensely! When participants were wearing these ‘drunk goggles’ their scores were typically half (or less) of what they had scored previously in the first round. Quite often the individuals would be confident in knowing where their buttons were but then when moving in the direction toward the button, they would completely miss it. Showing us how driving under the influence impairs one’s ability to react to situations adequately! 

In the first round I scored 33 and the second round I scored a WHOPPING 8. So moral of the story, don’t drink and drive! Your reaction time isn’t nearly as good as you think it is.

SkidPan Activity

I’ll be honest with you, I was very distracted by the beauty of the Mustang that I initially didn’t hear what we had to do but once I was snapped back out of dreamland we got onto our next activity. 

How it worked: There were two Ford Vehicles, a Ford Mustang (drool) and a Ford Kuga ST (also super gorgeous in your soccer mom car kind of way) which raced against each other in what is the slowest race you’ll ever watch, through a course of cones set out for each car. Each driver was asked a question before ‘racing’ off and at the end of the course had to park in either parking A or parking B depending on their answer to the question. 

Skidpan Activity
Photo by Grant Kenchington

The objective of this activity was to reinforce the safety tips we were taught during the presentation at the beginning of the day while having the pressure of racing to the correct answer and trying to focus on what you are doing so you don’t crash into any of the cones. This was so show how distractions could have an affect on your driving abilities! 

Photo by Grant Kenchington

Gravel Braking Activity

Honestly, I was most nervous to do this one out of all the activities but I mean to the point where I put it off and put it off until I was the last one and had no choice but to go but once I did it, I wanted to do it again! Strange how the mind works isn’t it? 

Gravel Braking Activity
Photo by Grant Kenchington

How it worked: A series of barricades were set up to portray that of a ‘road’ and at the end of the barricading, cones were set up to illustrate that of a ‘bus’ which was in front of us. The individuals had two different attempts to do this. Driving the effortless Ford Everest, the first time we drove as fast as possible towards the bus (aka the cones) and when the instructor signalled, we had to slam on the brakes and swerve the wheel to the right to avoid hitting the ‘bus’. Once we passed it, straightened out the wheel and continued on driving, going back to the start. The second attempt was a bit more daunting, we did the same thing as the first but this time we weren’t allowed to touch the brakes, demonstrating the Ford Everest’s ESC (Electronic Stability Control)

The objective of this activity was to highlight was to teach us how to handle a vehicle on loose ground during an emergency maneuver. 

Gravel Braking Activity
Photo by Grant Kenchington

4 X 4 Off road activity

As our last activity, we had the opportunity to experience the driving capabilities of the Ford Raptor by maneuvering over hills, holes in the ground and driving almost on the side. This is definitely not something I was expecting to enjoy! 

4 X 4 Off road activity
Photo by Grant Kenchington

As you can tell, we all had an incredible day out with the Ford team – learning and driving some beautiful cars. As our day was coming to a close, we arrived back to be treated to some delicious food supplied by Rocky’s BBQ and the ever so delicious gelato thanks to Barmotion as dessert. 

I hope this post has opened your eyes about road safety and the importance of being aware of your surroundings while driving as much as it did for me! Please share with your family and friends, you could save someone’s life.

Very big thank you to Ford and their members for showcasing such an important yet fun day, bringing awareness to road safety. 

Ford hosts their Driving Skills for Life Programme all over the country, so if you are interested in learning more, check out their website and get in contact with them. I would 10/10 recommend!

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