Breaking old habits

September 4, 2015 5:46 am Published by


The only time a driver has to re-adjust their driving style is when they get behind the wheel of a different vehicle. If it’s European you can guarantee at the first corner wipers will spring to life instead of indicators. Seating position, steering, braking, etc sends different messages through your backside to the brain. In a short period what was strange becomes normal and this is where problems arise. Most drivers give little thought to what they’re doing with drive time used as think time, called dream time, this equates to entering the danger zone as the brains capacity is diverted away from the task of driving.

Motoring enthusiasts spend a bucket load of coin on their cars but does this make them a more aware driver? I believe it does because they know out on public roads there are plenty of clunkers driven by those that don’t care. A lot of drivers don’t bother to wash their car, they smoke leaving the glass filthy, lots of dents and a thought process – it’s only a car.

The sad reality is that if you love your car you must also share the road with others who are trying to involve you in their crash. While some might laugh, remember you might be in control but you can’t control others. I know of many car lovers that at the slightest possibility of rain, they will garage their toy. What about others that park their wheels in a temperature controlled car bubble? This is not an obsession, it’s a behaviour driven by attitude that reflects respect for the passion and hard work invested in their vehicle. Next time you’re out enjoying your performance ride stay clear of the daydreamers in clunkers, there is a good chance they don’t know you even exist.

On a regular basis I get to hang loose sharpening my reflexes at our Performance Driving Programs. This process floods your body with adrenalin which is like increasing boost on a turbo. Everything we do is measured to help clients see where gains are achieved. Conversely, if too much enthusiasm is engaged then mistakes will be pointed out with driving techniques modified for improved performance. Old habits are hard to change but with perseverance anyone can kick a goal as long as you try. Our purpose built road course distance is consistent, meaning, run wide in a corner and the attendee has travelled a longer distance. You did not have to attend university to figure out that time and distance are measureable factors.

To prove this to a group of Government driver training experts we set up a challenge with every driver using the same vehicle. Same road course, same distance, oh – different drivers. This activity was timed to reflect accuracy, consistency and a level of commitment and control. These professional driver trainers had to simulate a rapid response, a call to action with no mistakes. I set a benchmark time over three circuits with a split time difference of 3/10th’s of a second. Everyone watching commented on the minimal tyre noise as I efficiently used minimal steering wheel movements along with incremental throttle control. Just turning the steering wheel using the outdated push pull method increases tyre load, friction, in this instance this invoked ESC, electronic stability control slowing the vehicle. Inputting too much steering because the drivers shuffled their hands changed the slip angle of the wheel and tyre, creating massive front wheel skid/understeer. These guys soon realised this outdated steering technique worked against them and new 5 star safety technologies and it cost them time. The same with braking, they still teach the threshold method saying we don’t encourage ABS anti-lock braking techniques. Talk about living in the seventies where older cars needed more physical skills, but come on – we now have to adapt to new driving methods created by new technology.

Look back to 1959, the FC Holden had 13 inch wheels and cross ply tyres. Imagine saying then, in the future some cars will come standard with 20 inch alloys and low profile tyres. Talk fuel injection, electronic ignitions, turbo’s, supercharging and this stuff was not standard fare. Motoring has changed so much with technology leading the way helping car companies deliver both efficiency and performance.

Sadly many drivers lack the necessary skills to get the best out of this equipment. Now at least these Government driving instructors have had their thinking influenced by us, proving cars don’t discriminate. Learning never stops, why not give a thought to having your skills re-tuned.

Remember, pushing a car to the limit is best done on the track, drag strip, or private venue, not on public roads.

Ian ‘Luffy’ Luff

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