Ford and Al Jazirah Vehicles bring ‘Driving Skills for Life’ to the Kingdom, to Help Reduce Youth Traffic Fatalities

412Ford and Al Jazirah Vehicles want to make driving in Saudi Arabia Safer. Ford Middle East and Al Jazirah Vehicles Agencies Co., the Ford and Lincoln importer-dealer in Saudi Arabia, are partnering with the King Abdulaziz University, to bring Ford’s global Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) programme to the Kingdom. The free educational programme is designed to impart safe driving practices to students early in their driving stages to help improve their road safety record.

According to the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013, Saudi Arabia has the highest road accident toll in the world, which now makes up the country’s principal cause of death in adult males aged 16 to 36. In Saudi Arabia from 1971 to 1997, 564,762 persons died or were injured in road traffic accidents, a figure equivalent to 3.5% of total population of Saudi Arabia. During this period 66,914 people died on the roads due to accidents, amounting to one person killed and four injured every hour. Over 65% accidents occur because of excess speed, drivers disobeying traffic signals or use of cell phone while driving.

Ford’s Driving Skills for Life programme was established in 2003 by Ford Motor Company Fund, the Governors Highway Safety Association and a panel of safety experts with the mission of teaching newly licensed teens the necessary skills for safer driving, and the importance of making good decisions while driving.

In its first 10 years, Ford Driving Skills for Life has directly trained more than 30,000 teens in nearly 900 school districts in 39 states, plus 15 international markets across Europe, Asia and North America. In 2013, the programme made its Middle Eastern debut in the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia for this year.

The Ford Driving Skills for Life programme will visit the King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah (December 7-11), where professional instructors will share and demonstrate special skills and give tips on safe driving practices using specially equipped Ford vehicles. The instructors will teach students the necessary skills for driving safely, brief them on the main hazards that they may face, and tell them how to handle some of the challenging situations on the road.

“Ford is proud of its rich heritage in safety leadership,” said Kalyana Sivagnanam, Marketing, Sales & Service director for Ford Middle East & North Africa. “As one of the company’s main pillars, safety is just as reflected across the designs of Ford vehicles and their unique technologies, and our Corporate Social Responsibility activities such as Ford Driving Skills for Life, which is designed to make a profound impact among youth and help make them safer drivers.

“Inexperience and recklessness are some of the leading causes of crashes with young drivers, and this programme delivers the key skill sets that will help increase their knowledge and confidence,” Sivagnanam continued. “We are very pleased with our tie-up with the King Abdulaziz University on this important initiative, and are looking forward to contribute, together with our local partners, the Al Jazirah Vehicles Agencies Co., towards one of key issues touching the Saudi communities by bringing safe driving awareness to the Saudi youth in a hands-on way.”

Dr. Abdulmonem Al Hayani, dean of Student Affairs at the King Abdulaziz University said: “Bringing social values to our students, including safe responsible driving skills, is a key pillar of our curriculum, and hosting Driving Skills for Life fits perfectly with our goals towards shaping a cognitive and behavioural student.”

Dr. Essam Kawthar, executive director of the KAU Research Endowment Fund praised the efforts of Ford and Al Jazirah Vehicles Agencies Co. in promoting ‘Driving Skills For Life’ in the Kingdom. He commented: “As its name suggests, the information to be acquired in this programme is going to be indispensable and necessary for driving and road conduct to our students.”

He further added that this corporation of conducting the programme aligns with his department’s initiative to launch the perfect driving competition, which aims at urging students to adhere to safety rules. The competition will accordingly instil positive attitudes in the students towards themselves as well as their nation.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Fahad Al Kraidees, president of Al Jazirah Vehicles Agencies Co., said: “Just as with Ford Motor Company, social responsibility and giving back to the communities where we serve our customers is a crucial part of AJVA’s corporate philosophy. Al Jazirah Vehicles Agencies Co has always taken the topic of safe driving seriously, as evidenced by our long term association with the General Department of Traffic in raising awareness. Bringing the Ford Driving Skills for Life to the Kingdom, adds another proof point to our efforts in educating the youth on responsible and safe driving. We are proud to be part of this initiative together with the King Abdulaziz University.”

According to the World Health Organisation report ‘Global Status Report on Road Safety’, more than 8,000 people die on the roads in the GCC and another 60,000 are injured, many of them critically. The WHO estimates that by 2020, road traffic injuries will be the third leading cause of disability adjusted years of life lost in the Middle East.

Ford Driving Skills for Life engages young drivers and addresses four key areas that are critical factors in vehicle accidents. These include distractions / hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management. These four key areas pose the most problems for young drivers and play a role in more than half of the vehicle crashes involving young people worldwide.

“Ford encourages safe and responsible driving and with the launch of the Ford Driving Skills for Life, the company is underlining its commitment to road accident prevention in Saudi Arabia and the region,” said Roch Legault, Ford’s Country manager for Saudi Arabia.

“Today, Ford vehicles offer customers smart technologies that truly revolutionise the driving experience and help drivers drive safely and even avoid accidents. And we remain focused and committed to bring high end technologies that will help make the world a better place,” Legault concluded.

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