By Pinky Concha Colmenares
Summer is a time for lessons to do things that students do not learn in school. When I was young – and that was quite a long time ago – summer was when we moved from a standard classroom to a special class for swimming, painting, cooking and martial arts.
I did not have the chance to take driving lessons then because there were no driving schools yet in the province. Most of us learned how to drive from the family driver, although some of my brothers and cousins first had the driving experience from behind the wheel of a tractor.
Today, with the many driving schools, it would be a good idea to enroll a child in one of the courses they offer. Even if your child already takes the wheel for chores around the village, letting him or her take a proper driving course will go a long way in awareness of road safety.
Road safety as CSR program
In the recent years, car makers have made road safety one of their corporate social responsibility programs. Two of them – the Ford Group Philippines (FGP) and Volkswagen Philippines – were recently each recognized with the Gold Driven To Serve Award for their road safety programs by the Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists (SPMJ).
Ford’s Driving Skills For Life
More than 22,000 drivers have participated in FMP’s Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) since it started in 2008. The classroom-style lectures and hands-on driving exercises have given participants enhanced skills in fuel efficient driving, vehicle maintenance, driving in difficult road conditions, and road safety.
In 2018, the DSFL program, which is offered for free, trained more than 3,000 drivers in Luzon, Metro Manila, Bacolod, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao. It has added exercises to demonstrate the damaging effects of distracted driving, a timely subject with the increasing number of traffic accidents caused by drivers’ attention to gadgets.
The program involves structured classroom lessons and hands-on driving exercises dealing with issues on vehicle handling, distracted driving and safety features of vehicles.
In 2018, the DSFL expanded the program to drivers in Clark, Pampanga, Bacolod and Iloilo. It has trained drivers of fleet customers like Goodyear, and of World Trans Taxi, a group of taxi operators. In 2017, the DSFL program also reached taxi operators like R&E, schools and universities, among them the De La Salle Zobel, University of Makati and Don Bosco. It was also offered to public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers in Muntinlupa through a partnership of the local government unit and Don Bosco Tondo. In the same year, the DSFL partnered with Uber Philippines to train over 700 Uber drivers in Manila and Cebu.
Volkswagen’s Steps to Safety
Volkswagen Philippines, under its Child Safety Initiative, presents the subject of road safety through child-friendly situations. They call it the Steps to Safety program which is directed to children aged 9 to 12 years old. It presents specific situations usually encountered on the road.
The whole program module presented the message through a short pedestrian road safety seminar conducted by an accredited instructor from the Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership. The lessons include how-to’s on crossing roads, recognizing traffic lights and signals, following road signs and markings, identifying types of pedestrian crossings. Using digital media, virtual reality and a smartphone app presented a simulated road network. As a game, the children were challenged to pass all seven levels using pedestrian crossings, overpasses and following road signs.
The reward for completing the game is a road safety badge from Volkswagen Philippines CSI program.
The Steps to Safety program follows the success of Phase 1 of the CSI program, the Junior Driving Course, which, again through play, made the children aged 4 to 8, aware of the street landscape.
It starts with a 15-minute seminar introducing the child to the Junior Driving Course where a 50-square meter road network simulates the street landscape. The participant “experiences” driving on a kiddie car and applies what he knows about road signs and traffic lights to be able to earn a Junior Driver’s License.
I hope you can get yourself – or your child – to experience one of those programs. Any education on road safety will go a long way to making our roads safer.