Driving the lessons home

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Driving cars is not like driving nails, and even experienced builders can benefit from driving school courses. Ford recognises this and, as a company, actively supports a driving school which carries the Blue Oval brand name. 

The Ford Advanced Driving School, or FADS as it is known, has been something of an educational institution for the past 19 years. Just recently, a new face took the helm at the school, and it belongs to John Brown. 

John’s background as an accountant hardly sets him up as a driving instructor but, despite being a selfdescribed “bean counter”, John is a confirmed petrol head with no less than seven cars in his driveway — and what cars! Four of them don’t matter too much, but his new Falcon, his “classic folly” — a 69 Mustang — and his “garage queen” 1923 Model T, definitely prove that he has the right coloured blood — blue of course! 

And as if that wasn’t enough, John cut his accountant’s teeth at a Ford dealer many moons ago — at John Andrew Ford. Oh, and before we forget — because behind every great man there’s a greater woman — Sandy keeps John in line, mostly, and handles the admin and quality control of the school. 

So what gets taught at FADS? Well, you could start with the entry level course which is probably the best way to start a programme of improved driving skills. This course takes you through the basics of vehicle control. 

It won’t teach you how to drive, but it will teach you how to drive with a higher degree of skill by rekindling some skills which may have become a little rusty over time. You’ll be taking vehicles that you drive every day through emergency stopping procedures, obstacle avoidance and general car control, experiencing some of the vehicle safety systems which may not be called on while you’re driving — but should the need arise, you’ll know what’s happening. 

A component of this course is the theory aspect. While classroom stuff sounds, well, a little dry, the end of the day sessions are handled quickly but efficiently — with a few laughs thrown in to keep it all real. What these sessions teach though, is extremely valuable as they often cover things in the road code which may have or may not have changed. 

And when was the last time most of us looked through a road code? Ten years ago, 20? But it’s not all so basic. FADS offers a higher-level, advanced course, which gets a little more involved. Generally speaking, the advanced course is recommended as a follow-on from the entry course, and builds on the skills learned previously. 

It really is a course designed for those who have specific vehicle training needs, and teaches on-road cornering lines, which is why level 2 courses have to be conducted on closed circuits such as race tracks. 

Things happen a little faster at level two which is what makes it really worthwhile to come back for, as if coming back for driver training wasn’t worth it in its own right. So driver training is valuable, fun and informative, but there’s one other factor to consider — that of safety

and health. The building industry is one which is all too familiar with OSH and its guideline/recommendations, but driving vehicles — how does that come into it? Well, the company car is regarded as a place of work and you are responsible for your employees at their place of work — which, theoretically, means any vehicle owned by or used by your company. 

So, if you send the apprentice for a couple of bags of cement, some timber, nails or even the work crew lunch, he or she has to know about the potential hazards on the road, and you have to make sure those hazards are minimised. 

The easiest way to do that is with driver training, just like the kind John Brown and his team provide at the Ford Advanced Driving School.