Saturday, March 28
Although this really doesn’t qualify as travel, it could improve road trips for anyone who goes through this experience.
Mark and I took an Advanced Driving Skills course near our home. We recognize that our skills can wane as we age, and we don’t want our children to have to tell us that we need to improve. We have already taken the 55 Alive classes, but this is over and above what we learned there. Everyone should try it.
Our training consisted of some classroom and mostly hands-on, driving retired police cars. We were assured that we needn’t worry about hurting these cars, Crown Victorias. In fact, they are like driving bathtubs on wheels. We did get to turn on the sirens and lights as part of our last exercise – woohoo!
We started out with testing our ability to avoid sudden accidents, objects in the road at various speeds. Dismal! Most of us aren’t really aware of how much time it takes to react and then how long it takes to stop at various speeds. Then we were taught some avoidance skills and even the best placement of the steering wheel to minimize airbag injuries. Then more practice at avoidance, and we all did manage to improve, but I admit that this was very stressful for me.
We learned how to steer through skids and went to the skid pad to test those skills. For me, this was the most fun of the entire class. However, it doesn’t take too long to start feeling dizzy.
We also worked on backup skills and driving through a serpentine course, backwards as well as forwards. We practiced braking with and without using ABS.
Our final exercise demonstrated the effects of distractions on our reaction time. We turned on the lights and sirens and then were asked to recite a list of items, then “threshold” brake (stop without engaging ABS) to avoid the impending accident or object. It was extremely difficult, but a valuable lesson to all of us.
We were surprised, and pleased, to see that most of the participants were middle-aged or older. One 80-year old woman was there with her son who had convinced her to come. This class is also offered to teens who usually don’t learn these kinds of skills during driver training.