Ford brought its hugely successful global Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) programme to Malaysia for the first time last weekend. Held at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), the event – which ran over two days, on December 17-18 – saw a total of 84 licensed drivers participating.

The Ford DSFL programme imparts safe driving skills in four key areas, these being hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management. It includes both classroom and practical trainings sessions to help educate drivers of all levels in safe-driving skills.

The participants in the four sessions over the two days included Fiesta and Focus customers, who began with the classroom session learning about proper seat positioning, correct steering control, understanding understeer and oversteer, as well as getting tips on highway driving, driving in the rain, as well as other general dos and don’ts on the road.

The segment also covered Ford specific safety features such ABS, electronic stability program (ESP) and traction control system (TCS). As for the practical session, crucial skills such as the correct ABS braking technique, obstacle avoidance, ESP and a typically eventful slalom course were to be had.

I popped by on Sunday evening, when the last batch of attendees were going through the practical session exercises – while the coursework covered basic points, it proved valuable and highly informative to the participants, many of whom experienced the full workings of ESP in action for the very first time.

A Fiesta 1.4 manual was used to showcase the effects – or rather, the lack of – ESP, and when the tyres on that one had gone south from doing one too many skid control runs, a Focus sedan took over duties. The latter did a sterling job of highlighting the differences of not having and having electronic driver-aids to assist under volatile road conditions, all achieved with the simple switch of a button.

The participants came away suitably impressed with the programme. “A big thank you for organising such a wonderful programme and giving me the opportunity to learn what driving school didn’t teach me. My colleagues and friends are amazed that Ford is helping raise awareness on such a large scale – this is essential for today’s drivers,” one said about the programme.

Meanwhile, Ford is glad to do its bit to educate drivers. “Ford is proud to provide our global Driving Skills for Life programme to drivers in Malaysia, and to try and help make a difference on the roads here by raising awareness of safe driving practices,” said David Westerman, regional manager, Ford Export & Growth Operations.

“People are taking to the road in ever-greater numbers, often without the training to drive properly or the fundamental understanding of driving skills. Driver training, education and public awareness are imperative to making a difference,” Westerman added.

The event, which it effectively picked up the tab for, was a great move by Ford – each participant only had to pay a nominal RM50 confirmation fee to take part, a token sum merely to ensure that those who confirmed showed up (to preempt the tendency to say ‘yes’ and not show, which tends to happen a fair bit); it hardly made a dent in covering the total cost of the event.

The game’s well and truly on though, and plans are afoot for more DFSL programmes to run in 2012, so Ford owners, you’ll want to be in for the next one!