Monday, November 16, 2009

Defensive Driving for Women

After 22 years of driving and teaching women in our ‘Know Your Car’ workshops – I was looking forward to a day at the track last Saturday. Mark was teaching our Inaugural ladies only Defensive Driving course ‘Control Your Car’.

Armed with biscuits and sandwiches and clothing which was way too hot for the day – I drove to Eastern Creek, ready for a day of learning. Of course a room full of girls isn’t hard to get chatting and nearly all of us admitted to thinking we were quite the girl racers.
The day started with theory – good driving techniques, essential do’s and don’ts and of course the footage that we all squirm from. Statistics, photos and crash tests dummies. Yes we had all seen them before, however it seemed so much more powerful with the image of the drag strip in the window behind us.

The need to reduce speed to reduce risk was articulated by Mark. Yes I know that I have heard speed is a major factor in road fatalities, but as with most people, I had always coupled it with luck, wet roads, other bad drivers etc. The point that came across clearly and strongly is that speed is a variable we can control – even when we can’t control the other factors.
All 13 women were just amazed, why don’t we learn this stuff at school – in this way? We groaned and shook our heads – no more speed racing we thought.

And then yes the time we had all been waiting for arrived– our turn on the track.
We all drove our cars to the start point as Mark hosed down the track. As if it wasn’t hard enough to practice emergency braking, we were going to do it on a wet road!
Girl after girl we went down the track, repeated at different speeds and had to brake suddenly as ‘Timmy’ jumped out in front of us. Emergency braking and quick decision making, with no radio on and the windows down suddenly 80 kms seemed so fast. How on earth can I stop a car when the radio is on, I am thinking about the day ahead and am tired? The concentration we were using was enormous – could we ever replicate this in real life?

But like Mark taught us – the aim of the day is not to be proficient at stopping at high speeds, but to realise the distance it takes to stop a car and the affects of speed on distance. Again reiterated for me was the need to reduce speed in order to reduce risk.
Speed and in essence my ability to control this variable could just save my and others lives.

Hot from the heat on off the track and with a head full of images and information I drove home – hands at 9am and 3pm and thought ‘When can I next get on the track?”
For dates of our next Galmatic Defensive Driving Day check out our website

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