Ford’s Driving Skills for Life for Her Returns to Effat University to Help Female Students in their History-Making Journey to Drive Change in the Kingdom

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  • DSFL for Her – a special variation of Ford’s globally renowned and award-winning safe driving programme – is designed to accommodate Saudi females embarking on their first journey and help build confidence behind the steering wheel
  • Customised version of Ford’s award-winning global initiative returns to Jeddah-based Effat University on its second round
  • Social media pool of 85,000 females in Saudi Arabia reveals that majority are concerned about traffic suddenly stopping ahead, while many also worry about breaking down

Women in Saudi Arabia say that strictly enforced traffic laws would help make roads safer, and that self-parking technology is a top priority for them when shopping for a new car.

The revelations came during a Twitter poll which targeted Saudi women, ahead of Ford’s return to Effat University in Jeddah for the second running of its acclaimed Driving Skills for Life for Her programme recently. Ford’s DSFL for Her made its successful global debut in Saudi Arabia earlier this year in March when more than 250 students from the university took part in the course – and dozens more took part in the second wave.

“Learning to drive can be stressful to newly licenced drivers wherever they are around the world – and we know that it takes time to assimilate these new skills,” said Simonetta Verdi, Director, Government and Community Relations, Ford Middle East and Africa. “Driving Skills for Life has been designed to address some of the concerns young drivers may have when it comes to taking to the roads for the first time, and help build confidence behind the steering wheel.”

Dr. Haifa Jamalallail, president of Effat University, said: “Effat University is well known for its innovative education, driving women forward to take their rightful places in society and the workforce. We are proud to be able to partner once again with Ford to ensure that our students are prepared to become responsible, safe drivers. We continue to work with all elements of society to improve the safety of all citizens on the road. The Ford Driving Skills for Life programme is a natural step in this direction.”

The poll targeted women aged 18-35 in three main cities – Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam – and attracted more than 85,000 votes. When asked what would make roads safer, 45% of women agreed that stricter traffic rules will help make a difference, while 26% said that everyone was responsible for making the roads safer to drive and that it should be a collaborative effort on everyone’s behalf.

Chief among driver concerns was traffic suddenly stopping ahead – one of the key issues DSFL addresses with the space management and braking modules. Of those surveyed, 38% said that the prospect of a suddenly stopping vehicle – possibly while in heavy traffic, or because of a problem ahead – overruled any issue they may have with breaking down (26%) or tailgating (22%).

The survey also revealed that women drivers in Saudi Arabia placed a high priority on technology that helped them to park. When asked which features they looked for in a new car, almost 80% said that parking technology, like self-parking features (50%) and parking sensors (29%) were a must. Surprisingly, Bluetooth (11%) and Navigation (10%) were distant considerations.

“These concerns mirror many that have been identified the world over, which is why we’ve developed a suite of driver assist technologies that include features like Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Collision Warning with brake support. These features are designed to alleviate stress by helping drivers to effortlessly maintain a comfortable distance from the vehicles ahead,” said Crystal Worthem, director of Marketing, Ford Middle East & Africa. “But safe driving starts with the driver – and a well-educated driver is one of the best safety features any car can have, and this is the mandate of our award-winning Driving Skills for Life initiative.”

DSFL for Her

The different modules of this new customised introductory programme have been created with first-time female drivers in mind, with the aim to break down the barriers that would intimidate those that hadn’t been in the driver’s seat before.

The sessions include:

  • Learning About Your Vehicle – where women are taught the fundamentals of preparing to drive, such as the importance of adjusting seating position, checking mirrors, and placing hands at the correct point on the steering wheel
  • Braking – which presents ladies with the learning opportunity to safely control the car from being in motion, instilling safe driving practices, preparing these new drivers to take to the road with confidence
  • Driver distraction – stressing the importance of staying focussed on the road at all times, highlighting through practical, hands-on experience the dangers of driving distracted. In Saudi Arabia alone, close to 7,500 road deaths in 2017* have been attributed to the use of mobile phones while driving.

During the programme, participants of DSFL for Her also had the chance to wear specially-designed “fatal vision goggles” – which mimic the effect of tiredness or drowsiness – as well as the unique “nighttime goggles” that created conditions synonymous with driving in darker roads, which so often requires added attention and focus due to limited lighting.

In Saudi Arabia, there’s an average of one road accident every minute, with more than 7,000* people losing their lives on the Kingdom’s roads last year. With Driving Skills for Life, Ford aims to instill safe driving practices early on with younger drivers, both men and women.

A signature programme of Ford Fund, Driving Skills for Life is an international initiative for road safety created in cooperation with the Governors Highway Safety Association and a panel of safety experts. It captures newly-licensed drivers’ interest with free, hands-on courses that pair new drivers with professional instructors to focus on the issues and obstacles that cause crashes, including impaired and distracted driving.

Now in its 15th year, Ford Driving Skills for Life has provided free training to more than one million newly-licensed drivers – including more than 3,600 students across the Middle East since 2013 – in more than 40 countries. In total, Ford has invested more than $50 million in initiatives globally as part of its long-standing commitment to promoting safety on the road.

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