KON sat through the 1st Autoworld Safety & Defensive Driving Course with 25 participating members. He now recounts his fun.
My first two years of driving were completely accident free. Not even a scratch. However, after the ‘P’ sticker came off, things didn’t go too well for a while. I met with two accidents in quick succession, both of which I was at fault.
For the first one, my car spun 360 degrees on a wet road at until a boulder managed to bring me to a halt with only some (admittedly massive) dents on my car. Then, two weeks later, again on the wet, my brakes locked as I rear-ended another car waiting to turn at a junction.
At this point, you’re probably remembering some of the vivid road accidents that you have experienced in your lifetime. I am willing to bet that, whatever you went through, most of you would have at least one thing in common with me: it could have been avoided.
This was a point stressed to us during the 1st Autoworld Safety & Defensive Driving Course, organised together with instructors from Kenvin Low’s Asia’s Advanced Driving Academy (AADA). The fact of the matter is that most, if not all, road accidents are due to avoidable human errors.
It was the objective of the Autoworld Safety & Defensive Driving Course to equip its participants with the knowledge to prevent such mishaps, and in the event such mishaps happen anyway, how to best recover the situation so that one can escape unharmed.
Planning for this course was already well under way when I first reported to work at Autoworld early in June. As the date neared, the participants’ registrations came, before Goodyear and Honda were roped in as sponsors.
On the morning of Saturday, 18 July 2009, twenty five Autoworld members turned up at the Kelab Golf Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah for the theory part of the course. We were taken through an interesting, if slightly gruesome presentation as Kenvin showed us the country’s road accident statistics in addition to photos of actual people seriously injured in major mishaps on the road.
Introducing us to the concept of defensive driving, Kenvin was quick to point out that defensive driving does not simply mean just driving slowly. Rather, defensive driving encompasses a wide set of skills where the driver has to continuously change and adapt to situations, making allowances for the errors of unskilled drivers.
We were also introduced to proper driving postures and techniques designed to give drivers maximum effectiveness in their car control. In addition, certain common misconceptions were also cleared, such as how ABS actually does not reduce stopping distance and also that it is not correct procedure to use the hazard lights (or popularly known as the “double signal”) when driving in heavy rain.
The theory session concluded with a quick buffet lunch before the entourage adjourned to the Shah Alam Stadium car park for the practical session. With five demo cars loaned from Honda, Kenvin and his instructors started off with basic car care tips such as the watching of various fluid levels and tyre selection before warming us up with a slow slalom course.
For someone lacking in practice, attempting the slalom using the push-pull steering method looks deceptively easy in theory, but remarkably awkward in practice. The instructors were in the car to constantly remind us as we reverted back to our older incorrect habits.
Later on, things got a whole lot more slippery as the instructors poured a special liquid mixture onto the ground, ensuring less wear for the tyres, and more hilarious sideways action for the drivers.
The exercises that followed included a braking test where participants were required to slam their brakes and avoid an obstacle with zero grip from the tyres, then come to a stop inside a designated box.
In this exercise, we were shown the difference between cars with and without anti-lock braking systems, and how both types of cars should be treated differently. Most participants, after practice, were able to avoid the obstacle, but the majority of them were unable to stop their cars inside the designated stop box.
Next was a skid test which happens as you take a bend, the slippery surface sent the car sideways for you to catch on the counter steer. Catching the first slide is a piece of cake, but however, predicting when the rear will suddenly swing the other way proved a little bit trickier as a little anticipation is required. On the Accord 2.4, the instructors had to turn the traction control off to allow for the hilarious slides you see in the photographs.
Wrapping up the event was a mini auto-khana exercise where the participants competed against each other to get the best time. Winner of this mini-contest was Azwar Jaffar Osman, who walked away with a set of Goodyear NCT5 tyres.
Now, it should be noted that the whole exercise was coordinated by top professional drivers in a closed and controlled environment.
All cars and drivers emerged unscathed after massive doses of harmless fun in addition to some very beneficial training. Driving courses such as these provide the perfect avenue for people to push cars hard without having to worry about harming themselves, the people around them or their vehicles.
We at Autoworld are extremely pleased with the response to the event, and we look forward to bring more such events to you, the members, in due time. Up next, we have a programme organized in collaboration with The Otomotif College, which is the ‘I Love My Car’ workshop taking place on Saturday, 1 Aug 2009.
On behalf of my colleagues at Autoworld, we would like to extend our appreciation to the members for your participation, to the instructors of AADA for your tips and guidance, and finally, to Honda Malaysia, Goodyear and Jabatan Keselamatan Jalan Raya for your support of the event.
We look forward to see you all at the next event!