Friday 3 February 2012

Drive for Life

Our friends from the 'Jagged Edge' extended an invitation to the MSCCC to join them last Tuesday evening for an introduction to the 'Drive for Life' programme at the organization's centre in Mississauga. This organization focuses on training drivers 'from the head to the feet' following a programme with the acronym SPOT, to teach; Scanning, Predicting, Options, and Take Action.

Steve and Martin Beer, and I showed the Morgan colours among nine or ten Jagged Edgers, who could be described as a splinter group of Jaguar owners. There was a mix of class room sessions expanding on the points in the SPOT programme and sessions in simulators. These simulators put you in a typical driver's seat with a typical dashboard and controls for an automatic transmission car. There are three wide screen monitors to fill your peripheral vision as you sit at the wheel. The first run you take is a 20kph cruise just to make sure you can adjust to not feeling anything as you accelerate and brake. A small percentage of people have trouble when the feeling of motion is cut off while still seeing the motion. Then the action starts, you drive along a typical looking mixed use urban/suburban road and deal with road construction, pedestrians that step out on the road from behind visual obstructions and drivers that do not follow the rules of the road. 'Teaching then a lesson' is not the answer.

Later they put us in some 'fun' scenarios; I tried to drive a top armoured Humvee through a battle in an Iraqi town. Crashed into a pick-up truck that pulled out in front of me just at the edge of town. Steve, Martin, and Rob, all drivers in the Chump Car Challenge, went head to head to head in a race track scenario. The sophistication of the simulators was shown off here. Since we had not driven in hills before they were asked to just accelerate to 80kph and hold it through the first two turns of the track, to verify they would not get any vertigo from the vertically moving scene while not feeling the motion. After they competed that he asked them to do it one more time before starting the race. This time all three spun out, he had changed the car from a front wheel drive car, a Ford Taurus, to a rear wheel drive car, a Ford Crown Victoria. The different dynamics of the cars calls for a different driving technique even in the simulator. Martin won the race by several car lengths.

Considering how I was consistently NOT steering to where the vehicle I crashed into was coming from, I'd better take the 'top up' course they offered us. Check out their web site for more details about their programmes. They do a lot of work training people who drive as part of their job; taxi, truckers, emergency crews, even the military. The testimonials show they get results.