Driver training and driver trainers misconceptions.

Last night, I read what had to be one of the most uninformed articles, ever. Well not ever, I have read quite a few in my time, but this one was from two groups who quite simply, should have known better, the NRMA and Police.

In this article, I will reprint their’s, and below each doozy, I will write what should have been said.

First though, I want to draw attention to the fact that most people do not know what it is they are paying for when they purchase driver training. Most parents believe it is just lessons to get ready for the driving test, indeed, for most of the industry that is exactly what it is.

It is quite scary to read comments to the article I am going to rewrite, simply because they are so off the mark. Fueled by misinformation and the writers self perception. Indeed, it is often stated, and I have been teaching driving, performance, advanced and high end courses, for most of the key manufacturers – Globally. We always had it drilled into us “There are only two things you cannot tell another person, .

1. They do not know how to perform behind the wheel

2. They do not know how to perform behind closed doors. ”

Why???   Glad you asked.  – these are the only two things that people are allowed to teach themselves. Consequently, we all believe, without exception, we are great drivers and fantastic lovers.

Now you can laugh about this to yourself, comment in a group of friends and compare notes and horror stories, but the truth remains that unfortunately in this industry, the subject of driver training projects from the lowest common denominator. the self taught expert.

Believe it or not, there are little to no driving skills preparations in becoming a driving instructor, even though the course has progressed from a certificate three in transport and logistics, ( a glorified course in how to run a small business) to now it is a course based on road rules, in some states they have their 20 point plan, although this still does not include driver training, driving skills, a demonstrated background in your ability to teach at a consistently high level).

This means, you are paying to put your child in the highest risk group of people. If your child wants a career in cricket, you go to a clinic hosted by one with years of experience at the top level. Sports, dancing, music, academics, we always search out the most experienced, people with demonstrated history and careers at the top of their field. ‘

When we go looking for driving lessons, we focus on price, just want to pass the driving test. The excuses I have heard consistently, well to be honest, astound me.

This is their highest risk activity, they will undertake for the rest of their lives. REFERENCE 

See, when a student crashes, it is not their fault, it is the driving instructors, he is in control. There is no circumstance or conditions that allow for exemption to this, yet it happens every day.

EXAMPLE

No, it just means you know the rules to pass the driving test.

So here is what happens.

  • What is Driver training. A question we should all ask more.

    The industry standard is defined as passing the driving test.

  • The customer (students), all want to meet and comply, they want to pass the driving test.
  • The industry aligns itself to the customers expectations and delivers driving lessons, to just pass the driving test.
  • Then their accident rates spikes by 3000%

How effective is this policy, infact when you look at the overall policy, that the experts, nee government, believe that people can “learn their own way” all they have to do is 100 hours of practice under a graduated licencing scheme, where the student is allowed to be the teacher, the supervisor is allowed to be self appointed, based on relationship alone. The only effective measure is how they pass the driving test, then you get this.

In no other form of training, industry, education or otherwise, would this be allowed to happen. But we do it with out kids and their lives, every day.

example 1. 

And the self proclaimed experts are out in droves, yet they are the same people, teaching their kids how to drive. If we all believe we are excellent drivers, amazing lovers and do not need to be told anything on either, why are divorce rates so high and why do our kids keep killing and maiming themselves?

So lets dissect the article that instigated my rant.

NRMA Article on safe driving tips in the rain

  • In a perfect world, rainy days would find us with our feet up at home in front of the TV, nursing a cuppa. However, reality being what it is – you probably have to leave the house. So in this water-logged blog we’ll discuss how you can stay safe and sane in the rain.
  • The fundamental thing to realise is that fair and foul-weather driving should be approached differently – wet weather demands you drive much slower. Taking a few other precautions and using wet-weather driving techniques will keep you from ending up soaked on the side of the road, waiting for one of our helpful roadside patrolmen to save the day.

Total driver response:  Well actually no. This response is a loaded gun, some people will now drive slower, in hazardous conditions, and their will be an enormous variation on the term slower, acceptable speed etc. In the most hazardous conditions, you have now added a new variable, speed differential between cars…………

You can also  be fined for driving slower, just as you can be booked for speeding. Where do you drive slower, in the burbs, in 80km zones what about the closing speed differential you have created on the open road at 100 or higher?

Every act of driving is an equation of grip versus force. Modern tyres are fantastic innovations. They are the most important part of the car and the least understood and the most scrimped on

Understanding of Tyre Performance. 

Difference between quality and cheap tyres

Tyre tread depth and stopping distances

Bridgestones review “tread depth and road safety”

Our speed limits are extraordinary low and conservative, especially when you consider the advancements in vehicle design and safety .

Jeremy Clarksons view on cars and stopping distances. 

So, speed in the wet is affected by the following factors. 

Visibility:  You should be able to stop in the visual distance you can see, don’t out- drive your eyes. 

Tyres: Your tyres have to displace the water. Tyre tread depth is integral to this. If your tyres are in good condition, the road is offering plenty of grip, there are no substantial lakes of still water laying around and visability is good, then driving at the speed limit is fine. That is what the tyres were designed to do and that is why you paid good money for them. 

Road Condition:  Is it falling apart? Are there bits of bitumen laying on the surface, especially around puddles?

Traffic density: Who are you sharing the road with, are they inspiring you with confidence? Simple rule of thumb, is they are following to closely, in a larger vehicle that won’t share the same on road dynamics, stopping and steering quickly, then take the distance you would like to see between them and you, and put that in addition to the following distance you have between you and the car infront. Simples. 

Following distance: The primary reason for stopping distance is your reaction time. It takes the average person 1.5 seconds to react, this means at a two second gap, you have already lost 3/4 of your gap before you start to brake. Now you also have a massive speed differential to contend with. 

In conditions less than ideal, extend your following distance to allow for variables in grip, the cars you are sharing the road with and of course, weather. 

  • Exercise extreme caution if a deluge has followed a long dry spell
    During a dry spell, engine oil and grease collect on the road. When new rainfall hits, the surface becomes very slick. Continued rainfall will eventually wash away the oil, but the first few hours are the most slippery so bear that in mind.

Total Driver response:  

Yes and no. This headline is guaranteed to put all the wrong people on edge. See what happens, is during the dry spells tyre dust, brake dust, oil and contaminates (near oil fume being pumped out of council buses) all builds up on our roads. Indeed bitumen is also oil based and rises to the top in hot and dry weather. 
Add some water when it rains and it all mixes to create a very very slippery surface. 

They worst weather is when it is just lightly raining, it cannot wash the contaminates off. However, if it is really raining, road is cleaned fairly quickly and offers better grip. 

Key points to note.

  • Intersections are really high risk, as that is where vehicles stop and crap falls of. So allow extra braking distance and don’t rely so much on the brakes. (more on this one later) 
  • The smooth stones ( bitumen) in the well worn wheel tracks of your lane, do not offer as much grip as the unused stones on the high point either side of the wheel tracks. Use your lane intelligently. 
  • Allow for more travel time
    Traffic will be moving slower. Your normal route might be flooded or jammed, so don’t blow a fuse if it is – everyone’s in the same car-shaped boat.

TDR:  Use WAZE, it is a free app from google and tells you not only of congestion, but also best routes available. 

  • Turn your headlights on…
    even in  light rain. Not only will your lights help you see the road, but they’ll help other drivers see you.

TDR:  Your headlights wont help you see squat. What they will do, is enable people to see you. that is the important part of this discussion. Stand out from the glare, be noticed and look around to ensure you are being noticed. 

  • Drive in the tracks of a car ahead of you
    Following another car’s tracks on wet roads can reduce the amount of water between the road and your car tyres. Also keep a keen eye on their brake lights so you can quickly anticipate their actions.

TDR: OMG where do I start with this one.

Remember above when I said that roads are made from bitumen, bitumen contains petroleum (oil) so in the heat, with the pounding of traffic, it pulls this to the surface making the road slippery?  

Tip 1. Position your car left or right of the wheel tracks, stay in your lane and be mindful of the road position of other motorists. 

Tip 2. In the wheel tracks, water pools and destroys the integrity of the road. You cannot see it, as it is under water. Stay away from puddles.

Tip 3. Don’t watch their brake lights, remember above when discussing reaction times? Looking at their brake lights is the number one worst thing you can do, EVER!!!      Look through the traffic, look as far foward as you can see, look to see what other motorists are reacting to, so you can be prepared, earlier. Anticipate and be in front of the game, don’t react and be a victim in the game. 

Brake earlier and easier than normal
This increases the stopping distance between you and the car in front of you and lets the driver behind you know that you’re slowing down. Be extra clear when using turn signals, so that other drivers can read your intentions easily.

TDR:  Brakes do not stop the car, it is the grip of the tyres that stops the car. Always work with and at enhancing the grip of the tyres, road position, tyre pressure and smooth use of the controls. Think of tyres like the soles of your shoes. 

Keep an eagle eye out for pedestrians and cyclists
Visibility is lower for everyone plus raindrops deaden sound, so the usual visual and audio cues for measuring car distances become obscured. Pedestrians are also impatient to get out of the rain so may make rash crossing decisions.

TDR: Pick your eyes up, learn to drive with peripheral vision, where you steer with your eyes and your hands follow your eyes, always keep panning left to right, like a radar. Anticipate all the variables and ensure your speed is such, you can always stop in the distance you can see. 

Practice your braking technique, Brace Brush and Bury, the most important part of the stop is not the end, it is how you apply the brakes to use weight transfer to increase your tyres grip. This also gives you the ability to steer, avoid and in the worst case, minimise injury.

Defog your windscreen
Rain will cause your windscreen to fog up quickly. Switch on both front and back defrosters/heaters and make sure the air conditioning is also turned on.

TDR: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are a lot of things that affect fatigue, hot air, blowing in your face, that is bouncing of the windscreen is one of them. Fact is, using the heater as a demister is so 1960. the most effective means to demist the windows is to use the airconditioner.

See it dehumidifies the air, which is why the windows fog up, to much humidity. You can also adjust the air temperature, by dialing in a little bit of the heater, so you can get the balance just right. 

Use the ventilation controls. if it is cold, warm air at your feet ( we all love cosy feet) and the cooler air up high to keep you fresh. Personally I like to use the function that splits the air up between feet, face and windscreen, works like a champion. 

Avoid large puddles (if possible)
Water splashing up into your car’s engine compartment may damage its internal electrical systems or a pothole under the water could damage a rim or knock your suspension out of alignment. If you can’t gauge the depth, try to avoid it. After you are across the puddle, tap on your brake pedal lightly to dry off some of the water on your rotors.

TDR:  Seriously, I would love to see the google page that his load of crap came from.
To be fair, again, back in 60s when everybody had distributors, with points ( they called it the kettering ignition system) yes, any type of water, was enough to get you stranded. the moisture would build up and cause tracking of the spark, which resulted in misfiring of the ignition system and the car just would not run. 

Todays cars, not a chance. 

Yet, the advise is good, just like your mother used to say, “Stay away from Puddles”

Why?  quite simply, you have no idea what is in them, there could be a massive pothole which will destroy your fancy mag wheels, there could be a depth of water, that your tyres cannot displace (Aquaplaning explained) 

As for tapping the brake pedal, that technique went out with drum brakes centuries ago. No real need for it these days as the spinning disc is constantly flinging water away and contact with the brake pads ( when you push the brake pedal) creates instant friction _ nee heat.

Give trucks and buses extra distance
Their over-sized tyres can splash enough water to block your vision completely. Avoid passing one, but if you must, do it as quickly as safety allows.

TDR: Remember I said our speed limits are quite low. which means everyone is doing the same pace, trucks and buses included.
Yes, stay clear of them, they have up to 18 wheels, all displacing up to 10 lts water /second.  that is a lot of spray.

If you try and over take, you could be in more trouble if you exceed the speed limit, so just hang back, let them pioneer the way and stay clear of all of the spray.

Traction and stability control are helpful on rain-soaked roads
Traction control helps you maintain grip by putting the brakes on the tyre(s) struggling for traction, while a stability control system monitors your steering input, intervening with the brakes and/or reducing engine power.

TDR:  

What stops the car – Brakes – No it is the grip of the tyres

What steers the car – steering wheel – No it is the grip of the tyres

What make the car accelerate – the engine – No it is the grip of the tyres

The problem with all this active technology is the misconception that it can save a drive who has already lost control. This is sooooooooo

WRONG. Every act of driving is a constantly variable equation of grip versus force. Without grip, you are just a passenger. 

If there is a large amount of water on the road, if you are losing feeling in the controls, steering wheel, brake pedal, you need to slow down. 

The scary part about this is you are just simply pioneering the territory, when if you had invested in your family, in yourself and done a quality driving program, where you can experience and learn in controlled conditions, then you would be prepared. 

For anyone to be using these fancy evolutions in technology, ABS, traction control, stability control, etc, a little word of advice, to use them, first you have to loose control……

SCARY thought that isn’t it. 

How to manage aquaplaning if it happens
Aquaplaning occurs when the water in front of your tyres accumulates faster than your car’s weight can push it away. The water pressure causes your car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between your tyres and the road. If you find yourself aquaplaning, don’t panic (though it’s scary!) Don’t brake or turn suddenly as you may skid. Ease your foot off the accelerator and if you must brake, do it gently with light pumping actions. If your car has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally. The car’s computer will automatically adjust the brakes.

TDR  You cannot teach a person to control what they lost control of. IT is too late. No experience, uncontrolled over actions, creating the very accident they want to avoid. 

Primary cause, to much speed, to much accelerator, ease of the accelerator, hold the steering wheel firmly, not tightly, eyes up, don’t look down to the threat, look up to where you want to steer the car, where is the safe opportunity. 

In short, do the opposite of everything you want to do naturally.

How to recover from a skid
If you find yourself skidding, ease your foot off the accelerator, and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. Be ready to turn the steering wheel repeatedly until the front of the vehicle is travelling in a straight line.4

TDR: Just in case you did not read the above and have not invested in your own driving I will say it again

You cannot teach a person to control what they lost control of. IT is too late. No experience, uncontrolled over actions, every decision creating the very accident they want to avoid. 

lets look at the types of LOC, ( Loss of Control) that people experience. The key challenge is physics, as you increase the speed, inertia increases to the square of the applied force. Twice the speed, you hit with four times the impact, three times the speed, nine times the inertia. 

So you think this only applies to hoons, think of all the cars you hear squealing tyres in a shopping centre car park. That is only 20kph. double that is 40, four times that is 80kph, the car is carrying 16 times the inertia and you still only have four palm size contact patches with the road. 

Understeer:

this is where the front tyres loose grip, you turn the steering wheel, the car cannot respond as the tyres grip threshold has been exceeded.

Solution: Straighten the steering wheel, ease of the accelerator, to increase the vehicle weight on the tyres, in a smooth controlled fashion, turn the steering wheel back into the corner exit you are looking for – Remember, we steer with our eyes. 

Oversteer:  is where the front has grip and turns into the corner and physics takes over with the rear of the car, wanting to keep going in the original direction of travel. 

Solution:  Ease of the accelerator, eyes up, apply steering correction to where the road really goes, so the tyres can rotate and do their job to steer you in that correction.

Challenge is that is only one part of it. In short, do the opposite of everything you want to do naturally.

Most importantly, do a specialist course in driver development, so you are prepared. 

Don’t attempt to cross running water…
…unless you are in an SUV commercial. A metre of rain water can wash a car away. Fifteen centimetres can knock a person off his or her feet.

TDR:  Don’t cross running water at all, regardless of vehicle unless you know the following

  • Depth
  • What is in the water
  • Road condition
  • Water crossing techniques.
  • Weather

Another reason why

Keep your tyres inflated properly
Don’t put off replacing worn tyres. Slow down when roads are wet, and avoid puddles to avoid aquaplaning. If you have any doubts about the wet-weather performance of your car’s tyres.

TDR  Importance of tyre pressure

Tyres have no shape. it is the air pressure in the tyre that creates the shape, that confirms the full tread surface area to the road. 

Inspect your tyres monthly, use your own tyre gauge so it is accurate. Check them when cold. 

Make sure that your wipers are in good nick and functioning correctly
If the blades are brittle or damaged, replace them before you’re caught in a deluge. Some wipers are better than others,

TDR:   IT is always a good idea to get your mechanic to fit a new set of blades every year, after all, they help you have clear visibility in wet weather and hazardous conditions. Not bad for only 10 bucks

Another good idea is to use the same cloth that you used to polish your car to give your windows a good clean and polish, the water beads straight off and gives great visibility. 

More window cleaning tips with Bowdens

In very heavy rain, stop
When visibility is so poor that the edges of the road or other vehicles can’t be seen at a safe distance, pull over and wait for the rain to ease off. If you can’t stop at a rest area and the roadside is your only option, pull off as far as possible and wait it out. Keep your headlights on and turn on your hazard warning lights to alert other drivers. Be very careful to pick a safe spot to pullover as everyone’s visibility is dramatically reduced.

TDR: That makes a lot of sense, visibility is poor, so pull of to the side of the road. What about everyone else who cant see, is just using tail lights as guides and indicators of where the road goes. 

Plan ahead, when you can see it is getting worse, find somewhere else to be, take an exit, find a service station, be anywhere but on the side of the road where you become a sitting target. 

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