If your employees drive as part of their jobs, a defensive driving course might be just the thing to raise their confidence and lower your costs. Stuart Fagg test drives the Drive to Survive course
These days, equipping employees with vehicles can mean navigating a minefield of insurance, duty of care and health and safety issues. For many organisations though, there are few options, other than crossing fingers and hoping employees are safe and skilled drivers.
However, some are turning to defensive driving courses – such as the Drive to Survive program – as a way of instilling confidence in their staff and addressing a duty of care in providing adequate safety training for employees, both on and off the road and in and out of work hours.
My last experience of driving tuition was as a 17-year-old working towards my test in the UK, so it was with some trepidation that I made my way to Sydney’s Oran Park Raceway for the Drive to Survive Stage I course. The one-day program is run by Ian Luff Motivation Australia and facilitated by Luff – a motivational speaker, race driver and pioneer of a number of advanced driving techniques – and his expert team.
The day begins with introductions and the inevitable form-filling before a class-based briefing of the day ahead gets underway. One of Luff’s mantras is that the RTA’s testing regime does not adequately prepare drivers for real-life incidents and on-road situations, and it is this void that the Drive to Survive program aims to fill. And it works. Our group comprised a variety of drivers and vehicles from P-platers in lemons to experienced ‘seen it all’ motoring journalists in high-powered performance cars, but everyone walked away with a new perspective on their driving.
Much of the morning session is spent in the classroom looking at issues including how cars perform under pressure, the mechanics of road building and what happens when things go wrong, but then its out onto the track for some practical experience. The course is designed to allow drivers to hone the techniques they may need in the event of an emergency on the road.
First up its emergency stopping. Sounds simple enough, but when was the last time you performed one at 90kmh? Luff and his team mark everyone’s finish points, which vary immensely, but offer tailored advice to each driver following each run. Everyone must repeat the exercise of speeding down the 500m run-up and performing an emergency stop without locking their brakes or displacing any witches hats.
Then its back to the classroom for a debrief. After lunch, it’s off to the skidpan. After arranging the witches hats to simulate a path around a stationary truck, Luff commandeers a participant’s car to demonstrate how to execute a controlled turn around the theoretical truck. He makes it look easy, which at speeds of up to 110kmh on the freshly-watered skidpan, it is most certainly is not. However, Luff and his team coax everyone through the exercise and before long even the less confident members of the group are performing like seasoned pros.
Once we’ve all mastered that, the witches hats are rearranged to simulate obstacles that require two 90-degree turns on the glistening skidpan.
At the end of the day Luff demonstrates what Drive to Survive Stage II (soon to be reviewed) involves. A mentally exhausting, but exciting and enjoyable day.
Drive to Survive, by Ian Luff Motivation Australia
More information: (02) 9829 5390, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ianluff.com.au