A U.S. automaker has taken its safe-driving program to Mérida. Photo: Ford Motor Co.

Mérida, Yucatán — A U.S. automaker’s safe-driving program has criss-crossed Mexico, teaching young people about common hazards and how to overcome them.

The Ford Driving Skills for Life Mexico campaign finally reached Mérida, using the race track to demonstrate various hazards on Thursday.

“What we want is for young people to experience safer driving, to realize the risks they run when driving either under the influence of alcohol or if they drive distracted, either by cell phone or by friends,” said Karem Rojas Mijares, coordinator of social responsibility for the Ford Motor Co. in Mexico.

In one shift, 100 young men drove a test car wearing goggles that simulated impaired vision that could result from drinking or taking drugs. Students knocked over cones when attempting to navigate a simple path.

One student even had trouble opening the car door during the experiment.

“That tells us that we should not be drinking and driving because it’s a dangerous thing,” his instructor said.

Professional drivers also explained how to regain control of a vehicle in an emergency.

In a Ford Mustang, the students were also taught how to avoid spinning out in the rain or during a sharp turn — and to avoid the instinct to slam the brakes.

Another module centered on distracted driving. A virtual-reality application demonstrated what can happen when a driver loses focus because of music or a phone conversation.

The campaign began in 2003 in the United States. In Mexico, 10,000 young drivers have participated in the program.

After Mérida, Driving Skills For Life will head to Guadalajara, Puebla and Mexico City. It was most recently presented in Monterrey, Irapuato and León.

Source: Diario de Yucatán