Riot Engine was invited by Ford to experience their ‘Driving Skills for Life’ (DSFL) program and we caught up with the trainers from the Advanced Driving Institute, South Africa, Derek Kirkby and Nick Osborne.
Derek Kirkby has over 19 years of experience teaching advanced driving skills and has also been part of a number of Ford’s TTT programmes. The TTT programmes, seek to train the trainers who conduct the DSFL programs.
Kirkby is extremely passionate about driving and cars. When he was taking us through the course material, trying to explain to the audience gathered on the finer points of driving, he steered into various other topics that enthusiasts like you and me would talk about over coffee. When a member from the audience mentioned about tyre punctures in tubeless tyres, Kirkby launched into an elaborate and informative discussion on tubeless tyres, run flats, and the slime that was used for some time in cars with tube tyres! He then shattered the myth about filling up when temperatures are lower, say early morning or late night. He pointed out that the fuel is stored in underground non metallic tanks, which are not influenced by ambient temperature to an extent where the density of the fuel changes.
Let’s be honest, the theory part of the driving skills course can tend to be boring. Derek makes sure the audience is on the edge of their seats by either throwing out statistics that could stun you, or playing a shocking video demonstrating the effects of ignoring safety measures available in cars. We managed to grab a few seconds of Kirkby on video.
Nick has been teaching advanced driving skills for over 10 years now. He is a HUGE McLaren fan and worships Ayrton Senna. We managed a brief interview with the man at the DSFL session in Chennai.
Can you tell us how you started out teaching driving skills, Nick?
Nick: My stepfather was in this profession and that’s how I started out teaching driving skills.
What is the most common problem participants of DSFL come up to you with?
N: Well, there isn’t a ‘problem’ specifically, but most participants of the DSFL join the program primarily to understand their own cars better.
There is a line of thought that the best drivers are the ones who start out early, what do you think?
N: There is the issue that older drivers have to unlearn the bad driving habits before learning the good ones, in that sense it is better when drivers start out learning young, but of course, in a controlled environment under proper guidance.
While not necessarily bad drivers, sometimes enthusiasts cannot resist flooring the pedal on empty stretches, what is your opinion on that?
We do see that often, and it might not go wrong everytime, but the truth is ‘Speed Kills’, it’s as simple as that. While the road may seem empty, the hazards of the street are not something you can always predict.
You must have seen the number of median opening on our highways, any suggestions?
It depends on the visibility. You can cruise through an open, well lit junction where you can be sure there’s no one waiting to cross, but in every other instance, it is best to slow down, watch and then cross.
If I was to buy a rear wheel drive car with lots of power and torque, do you think I’d be better off starting off with a less sporty car and then graduate to a more poweful one?
This is something we see a lot in South Africa. Youngsters get themselves really hot cars and are unable to handle them. I would always suggest starting out with a cars that’s less taxing, learn the basics properly and then move on to more powerful machines. Of course, if you do spend time in a controlled environment with a qualified driving instructor who will equip you with the advanced driving skills, then maybe you can start out with a powerful machine.