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Australia Motorcycle Education Program

October 15, 2011 Driver + Training No Comments

Driver training is a difficult task at best.

Driver training is a challenge for the student, educator, and society in general. Additionally, the general attitude toward driver training information continues to change.

There are a number of posts and articles about driver training, advanced driver training and vehicle handling on this site. A particularly interesting one deals with Police Officer Driver Training.

Here is a recent video from the Australia Transport Accident Commission.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxG5wET_w20&feature=player_embedded”>

Dynamic Environment = Environment + Vehicle + Driver

Dynamic Environment = Environment + Vehicle + Driver

The steering wheel  is for hands-on directional control of the vehicle and directional control is fundamentally determined by what happens with the steering wheel.  How you hold and control the steering wheel has a significant affect on vehicle control and ride quality.  Low speed maneuvers require a totally different steering technique than vehicle maneuvers at extreme speed.

Roadway Environment – Where You Drive – AASHTO and MUTCD

Driving the vehicle is a complex set of ever evolving issues.  Travelling on an open freeway is very different than driving on a congested inner-city street or urban highway.  Highway Planners are concerned with the Civil Engineering associated with roadway design including traffic flow, physical environmental appearance, water drainage, sight lines, physical contour of elevation, and every other physical aspect of the roadway.  After the roadway is built then it must be maintained.  If you are interested in the foundation of roadways then research the links to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials or  AASHTO and Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD.

Vehicle – What You Drive

Every vehicle has some common characteristics and some unique traits.  For new cars and trucks there is a general dynamic to how they drive.  Two similar vehicles equipped in the same manner would be expected to drive in similar ways.  Two similar vehicles equipped in a different manner would be expected to drive in different ways.

To illustrate some basic differences here is a good example with two trucks sitting side-by-side, one is a basic plain-vanilla 1/2 ton the average person might have.  The second could be a fully equipped heavy-haul 3/4 ton.  No-load operation in the 3/4 is very solid.  Load the 1/2 like the 3/4 and driving stability is compromised and the suspension could break.

Two real world examples come to mind to illustrate this difference.  One was a 1/2 ton pickup with a total of eight (8)  workers on-board pulling a trailer with their equipment.  The pickup had a loss of control and overturned in a pavement resurfacing area on the interstate after traversing a linear 1″ pavement elevation.  Simply put the truck was overloaded.

A second example is the basic 1/2 ton fitted with multiple optional load devices to permit the truck to pull a heavy travel trailer.  This truck was – suspension wise – turned into a vehicle that could deal with a very heavy load.  Inspection of the truck after the crash revealed that a rear axle had snapped at the axle flange.  Simply put, there is a difference in load capacity of the suspension systems.

Dynamic Driving = Environment + Vehicle + Driver = Where you drive, what you drive and how you drive

As the driver you have to operate the vehicle safely in the driving environment.  To say that it is imperative to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times is fundamental and the Shuffle Technique can be used for general steering wheel movement.  Attention to what is going on with the vehicle ad the environment will prepare you what is coming up such as this example from the High Performance Driver Training Program:

after the classroom time, we took them on the 10 cent tour.  After taking the students through the various activities and heading back to our facility at about 60 mph the instructor would illustrate how to perform a set of controlled back-to-back 180 degree turns of the car.  After experiencing a set of driving maneuvers that they had never been through the students would conclude that the fellow behind the wheel knew something that they did not.

Attention to the vehicle and environment established a good foundation for safe driving.  Hands on the wheel and a focus on what is coming up down the road, provides a basis for you to cope with unexpected hazards.  Every roadway and every car have problems and limits.  Adding in the unexpected can bring excitement and terror such as a child running out between parked cars on a city street, or dog running out on a country road, or cresting a small incline and seeing a stopped car on the road, or seeing a steel part right in your tire travel path on the interstate.

If you have pushed the car to its limit and you have experienced a total loss of control then you have reached a terror point where you are totally along for the ride.  Outside of a proper training area, experiencing a total loss of control can be a very bad event.  In a proper training area the Skid Pad is used to gain comfort with a total loss of control and learn how to regain control after a loss of control.  Terror can be replaced with knowledge.

Maintaining optimal control is the mark of a great driver.  This is the real fun and success of successful driving.

Professional Driving Focus

Drive Like A Professioal

Do you drive like a professional even if you are a professional driver?  Do you drive like a professional even if you are not a professional driver?  These are difficult questions that also include many other variables.  Is it possible to do everything right?  Or, from a more fundamental position maybe the question should be something like “what are the issues and characteristics associated with professional driving”?

steering-wheel-controlProfessional Driving Defined

Professional driving means that you know what to do and do it.  Sounds basic but it is very difficult to consistently execute.  Consider how an airline pilot controls the plane, there is one ultimate objective which is to safely make the trip.  In many ways aircraft operation is a parallel to automobile operation.  This is not to say that you have to be a pilot to be a professional driver.  However, applying realistic performance standards and expectations to driving will make you  a better driver.

But I Am A Good Driver

Driving  in a professional manner represents a set of critically important skills.  If you have a Driver’s License then you successfully got an identification card.  Driver training may have included some classroom time and time in a driver training car with an instructor.  With classroom knowledge and hands-on experience you were ready for the high-anxiety Official Driving Test which consisted of an eye exam, written and driving test.  Presumably you passed the first time.

A License To Learn

Top racing drivers are legends and they got to be legends because they were very good.  Consider a series of names: Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Elio Castroneves, Danica Patrick, Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, Fireball Roberts, Ray Fox, Fred Marriott, and you.  Being a professional driver does not necessarily mean that you have to race a car.

hold-left-and-shuffle-rightDoes the Pilot have to race the Plane

You expect a pilot to professionally operate the plane.  Racing the plane is not the success point.  Getting safely to the destination is the success point.

Pilot Training and Driver Training

With the newly-minted driver’s license our driver goes to a Flight Training program which consists of classroom ground school which must be successfully passed and then a minimum of 40 hours operational time in the aircraft.  Realistically in today’s environment of airspace restrictions and operational restrictions 60 hours would be considered fast.  Completion of ground school and flight training permits you to go for a check-ride with a Certified Pilot that has the FAA capability to sign you off as a pilot that can fly the plane in a manner the FAA deems reasonably competent. … Continue Reading

Professional Driver Training in 1977

On The One Mile Track - Click For Full Size

On The One Mile Track - Click For Full Size

If you want to be a good driver then you should take a high performance driver training class.  A Google search turned up 683,000 listings for “high performance driving school”  with some focused results such as The Ultimate High-Performance Driving School Buyer’s Guide which lists more than 60 high performance driving schools in 180 locations.  One of the longest running and most respected programs is the Bondurant school, and I’ll come back to them later in the article.

I have always felt that if you really wanted to get good at something then you should teach it.  If you are going to hold yourself out as an instructor then you need to be good and in the process of going to the higher level of proficiency then you will have acquired a life long skill that is truly unique.

Dan Daneff changes tire with a bald spot.

Dan Daneff in action. A set of tires would not last a week.

In the summer of 1977 I was a graduate student at Texas A&M University.   Having completed all required course work I had only to finish my doctoral dissertation to complete the Ph.D. degree.  Completion of the dissertation took two more years but that is another story in and of itself.  A friend, fellow graduate student, and newly minted Ph.D., Dr. Mark Edwards was aware that I was a very successful driver with the Texas A&M Sports Car Club since my arrival at the University in the fall of 1974.  That success was based on 8years autocrossing experience including the Penn State Sports Car Club, Sports Car Club of America, National Council of Corvette Clubs, Southeastern Confederacy of Corvette Clubs, and some time spent with the 1970 Formula Vee World Champion Bill Scott at Summit Point Raceway, WV working toward an IMSA license.

Along with fellow colleague Quinn Brackett, Ph.D., Mark had been responsible for getting the High Performance Driver Training Program or HPD up and running with Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), a division of the Texas A&M University System.  Both Mark and Quinn had finished their degrees and it was time for them to move on from the HPD program and for the change of instructors.   Along with James Locke and Edgar Blackledge, I was recruited for the program.

Instructor Staff - left to right: James Locke, Bob McElroy, Ivan Solari, Edgar Blackledge

Instructor Staff - left to right: James Locke, Bob McElroy, Ivan Solari, Edgar Blackledge

HPD was intended to provide Texas law enforcement officers the necessary training to return to their respective departments and train other officers.  The curriculum incorporated elements of Bondurant, LAPD, in addition to selected maneuvers that were determined to be relevant to our specific student population.  This was a 32 hour class that started at noon on Monday and ran through noon Friday.

A once in a lifetime job would be the way to refer to the program.  It was high adrenaline and high risk.  HPD facilities were at the Annex, which was a de-commisioned world war II airbase that had been turned over to the University for research activities.  Many TTI highway transportation projects continue today at the Annex.

My 304 CI V8 CJ5 at the High Performance Driver Training facility

My 304 CI V8 CJ5 with side exhaust, at the High Performance Driver Training facility

Key training activities include low speed road position, offset alley hazard avoidance, close quarter maneuvering, off road recovery, skid pad, and the one mile track.  Each instructor worked with three students and a set of tires might last a week.  A typical student that came in already had all the answers; they were the law and they knew how to drive.  To acquaint the students on Monday afternoon, after the classroom time, we took them on the 10 cent tour.  After taking the students through the various activities and heading back to our facility at about 60 mph the instructor would illustrate how to perform a set of controlled back-to-back 180 degree turns of the car.  After experiencing a set of driving maneuvers that they had never been through the students would conclude that the fellow behind the wheel knew something that they did not.  This was an essential part of the 10 cent tour.

These are old photos are from 1977.  Each captures  something significant, such as the  1964 Ford skid car with mechanical controls for the instructor to disable front or rear brakes or all – which was typically not a good idea!  The Gran Fury black and white had a 440 under the hood and a close look at the top photo illustrates the challenge of going fast with a big heavy car and the factory police package heavy duty suspension.

Every week something would happen like snapping an axle flange while the car was going sideways at 60; or watching the sheet metal buckle under your feet while the student driver loses control and impacts an embankment; or a ball of fire erupts under a car because someone put gasoline in a brake fluid can then the brake cylinder seals go away and gasoline sprays onto super hot brake rotors … you get the picture … did I mention that this Hollywood pyrotechnic car was headed straight toward me at major speed when the driver hammered the brakes to slow down producing an instantaneous gasoline explosion and fireball completely visible side-to-side all the way across under the front of the car.  Pretty neat if I say so.  We did implement some changes after this event, like no gasoline in the brake fluid can in our maintenance area.

Successul completion of the course entitles you to receive this important certificate.

Successul completion of the course entitles you to receive this important certificate.

On that axle flange separating, that was on a Ford Torino police package training car.  The car was sideways in a curve at 60.  I immediately felt the separation and tire rolling back through the sheet metal of the fender then the back of the car went violently up as the still vertical tire went under the rear bumper.  I calmly told the student to apply controlled braking.  I did not tell him that the exposed fuel tank (remember this was 1977 and exposed fuel tanks were under the trunk) was now skittering along at 60 mph in very close proximity to the concrete.  After another failure we implemented a preventative maintenance axle change out policy which eliminated these dangerous failures.

We all lived through this once-in-a-lifetime experience.  For everyone involved with the program it was special and unique.  It was geat fun, educational, and memorable.  If you really want to get good at something then teach it!

Random Photos From Automotive Tribune Site

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Richard Kubis Explains Solar Thermal Hybrid Automobile