Ford Motor Company and Jeddah-based Effat University are finishing the inaugural session of Ford Driving Skills for Life for Her this week, a version of Ford’s safe driving program for teens and new drivers. Ford claims that this serves Saudi women ahead of them acquiring a driver’s license for the first time.
P.R. Stunt, marketing program, or a natural extension of an existing clearly beneficial program – take your pick – the global debut in the Kingdom coincides with International Women’s Day today.
Since its Middle East launch in 2013, more than 3,600 male students have partaken of the Driving Skills for Life program, with sessions in three cities across Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year. Ford says it will conduct phase two of Driving Skills for Life for Her later this year at Effat University, then expand to other institutions across the Kingdom. More than 9,000 people were killed in car accidents in Saudi Arabia in 2016, according to the Arab News. This averages to more than 25 per day – attributed to speeding.
“Providing access to opportunities for people to reach their full potential is core to our mission and Ford’s goal of becoming the world’s most trusted mobility company,” said Jim Vella, president, Ford Fund.
Dr. Haifa Jamalallail, president of Effat University, said: “The wheels of change are constantly moving, and finally Saudi Arabia has caught up with the rest of the world about women driving. Statistics show that women are generally safer and more defensive drivers than men.”
“At Effat University, we are determined that this becomes the case also here,” Jamalallail continued. “We want women to be behind the wheel, and so we are looking forward to working with all elements of society to improve the safety of all citizens on the road. The Ford Driving Skills for Life program is a step in this direction.”
Ford Driving Skills for Life for Her
Ford is training more than 250 Effat University students with lessons thought to be necessary for new drivers, tips from experts, and an understanding of safe driving practices. Components for this customized introductory program were created with first-time drivers in the Kingdom in mind.
- Learning About Your Vehicle: Students are taught the fundamentals of preparing to drive, including the importance of adjusting seating position, checking mirrors and placing hands at the correct point on the steering wheel
- Braking: This session allows students to learn to safely control a car from being in motion to bringing it to a complete stop, preparing them to take to the road with confidence
- Driver Distraction: This session stresses the importance of staying focused on the road always, highlighting through practical, hands-on experience the dangers of driving distracted. In Saudi Arabia alone, close to 7,500 road deaths in 2017* were attributed to the use of mobile phones while driving according to The Saudi Gazette.
Participating students can use “fatal vision” goggles to mimic the effect of tiredness or drowsiness, as well as nighttime goggles that create conditions synonymous with driving on darker roads, which often requires added attention and focus.
“I’ve always been a passenger in the car and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel,” said Shams Hakim, an Effat University student in the business human resources program. “I’m excited, but I also have some apprehension about what is actually involved in driving. Ford Driving Skills for Life for Her has given me the confidence and education I need for the journey that lies ahead to obtain my license.”