7/30/2008 - Making Serious Learning Engaging
Experts from Ford and its DSFL partners have crafted the Driving Skills for Life program to be an engaging mix of skill training and spirited sessions to build practical experience. Key focal points of the training include awareness of road and traffic conditions, safe driving techniques and methods to drive more economically with reduced environmental impact.
"The techniques used for safe driving are essentially the same for economical, fuel-efficient motoring," said McCarthy. "So, driving steadily at a reasonable engine speed is not only safer, but can also help drivers improve fuel efficiency by up to 25 percent as well as reduce CO2 emissions."
Economical driving training includes anticipating road conditions, applying fuel-efficient driving techniques, avoiding speeding and keeping a vehicle properly maintained for optimal fuel economy. Safe driving skills focus on the use of safety belts, recognizing and anticipating changing traffic conditions, avoiding distraction and maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles in traffic.
"Inspiring safe driving is the biggest single step we can make to reducing road traffic accidents," Craft said. "Driving Skills for Life will make drivers to be more aware of the conditions around them and how important their actions to road safety."
In launching the program in the ASEAN markets, Ford is leveraging experience from the success of Driving Skills for Life in North America, where it targeted teens who are new to driving. Ford hopes to continue building momentum for the initiative across Asia Pacific markets, and plans to extend the program to additional markets next year.
Driving Skills for Life partner AIPF supports the program as a best practice for the region, according to Craft.
"It is great to see Ford, a leader in safety, doing something about this critical issue," Craft said. "Driving Skills for Life is a public-private partnership that effectively involves government and non-government organizations. We believe it will be the catalyst for further action to improve road safety as nations across this region deal with rapid changes on their roads."
As gas prices climb to record levels, many drivers are looking to coax a few extra miles out of each tank.
Those drivers who take the practice to the extreme known as hypermilers are cautioned against going too far to get more miles in the tank.
Marshall Doney, AAA Automotive vice president, said motorists need to think of safety first, refraining from fuel-saving techniques that could put themselves and others in danger and avoid practices that could harm their vehicles.
"The goals of hypermiling are positive, such as eliminating aggressive driving and saving energy," said Doney. "Unfortunately, some motorists have taken their desire to improve fuel economy to extremes with techniques that put themselves, as well as their fellow motorists, in danger."
Examples of the dangerous hypermiling techniques include cutting off the vehicle's engine or putting it in neutral to coast on a roadway, tailgating or drafting larger vehicles, rolling through stop signs and driving at erratic and unsafe speeds.
"These practices can put motorists in a treacherous situation where they could lose power steering and brakes or be unable to react to quickly changing traffic conditions," Doney said. "Not only are these extreme driving behaviors dangerous, many of them also are illegal. However, there are several safe and legal driving techniques motorists can implement to conserve fuel, such as smooth and easy acceleration and braking, maintaining a steady speed, using cruise control and looking ahead to anticipate changing traffic conditions."
Hypermiling techniques are not limited to driving style. How motorists maintain their vehicles is also key in reaching optimal fuel economy, but extreme measures can be harmful to a vehicle.
Keeping tires properly inflated can improve fuel economy by 2 to 3 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, some drivers have taken this advice too far by over-inflating their tires, which the Rubber Manufacturers Association reported can make them more susceptible to road hazard damage and result in premature wear to the center portion of the tread. Over-inflation can also cause handling issues due to less tire surface making contact with the road.
Using the recommended grade of motor oil is also helpful in improving fuel economy and some hypermilers opt to use the lowest 'weight' motor oil on the market. However, motor oil is not a fluid that can be freely interchanged and using too light an oil can cause major damage to a vehicle's engine.
In both instances, AAA said motorists should check their owner’s manual for the manufacturer's recommendations. Tires should only be inflated to the pressures specified by the vehicle manufacturer and should use the lowest-grade motor oil recommended by the manufacturer for their climate.
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