We’ve all had a near miss on the road at some time or other in our fleet vehicles. And while vehicles are becoming a great deal safer with the advent of electronic stability control systems being fitted as standard, human error is still the greatest cause of most motor vehicle accidents. A special course to help fleet motorists brush up on defensive driving skills is one of the many offered by the Kia-sponsored Road Traffic Education Centre at Ardmore Aerodrome The half-day Drive Safe course has been designed by the Kia-sponsored Road Traffic Education Centre to appeal to drivers who are unable to afford the time to undertake their longer and more in-depth courses. Last year members of the NZ Company Vehicle team underwent this training and certainly came away with a better knowledge of their vehicle’s ability as well as improved driving techniques including hazard avoidance. “Many companies require their drivers to undergo periodic defensive driving training as part of their Health & Safety requirements, and many more would like to brush-up on safe driving skills, yet they find it difficult because courses run by other schools can last for whole days and even stretch over two days,” says Tony Williams, who now runs the Kia RTEC with Ken Irwin. “We have always taught defensive driving as part of our on-going novice and advanced training programmes – advanced driving is, after all, about knowing how to put defensive driving skills into practice on the road. However, we recognized the need for a dedicated safety course and designed this ‘crash’ course to meet the needs of busy people, such as couriers, truck drivers and reps, who don’t earn when they are off the road.” The Drive Safe half-day course run by Kia RTEC is based on proven training programmes used by the Police and Army in the UK. The course mixes some classroom tuition with practical driving experience on a closed circuit at Ardmore aerodrome. Drivers get to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their vehicles in everyday driving and extreme manouevres, as well as understanding their own abilities, recognizing dangers signs and learning techniques to keep themselves out of harm’s way. “We’ve stripped it right back to basics and made it very simple – that way the lessons are learned quicker and stay with the people attending the course for longer,” says Tony. “We have a positive style of teaching, which enables new or experienced drivers to avoid crashes or incidents by the conscious application of driving skills. This positive style of driving will eventually enable the driver to become a good advanced defensive driver. “RTEC Driver training recognises the fact that the new drivers are not always able to make instant and correct decisions, and teaches them how to use their powers of observation and reactions to keep them safe from other road users’ actions, although experienced drivers may be quicker in making decisions we are well aware that some skills we are teaching are new to them. “Positive driving means keeping up with traffic flow and making adequate progress. Instructors will need to demonstrate the need to maintain observation skills and to develop hazard perception, and then teach how to cope with each hazard as it arises, by following a pattern of safe driving.” The Kia RTEC school has been supplied with a fleet of modern Kia vehicle equipped with the latest safety equipment, such as Electronic Stability Programme and ABS anti-lock braking that can be switched on and off to demonstrate different driving techniques for vehicle with and without such technology. Tony and Ken also offer fleet operators training for Class 2 heavy transport license, forklift and dangerous goods certification. Further Enquiries: Kia RTEC, phone 0-9 296 5111.
Avoid a a crash course by learning defensive driving techniques
Thursday, 03 April 2008