Why Do I Need Driving School?
You may have asked yourself that question whenever you’ve seen an article about a club driving school in the newsletter. Usually the article will state that either that you can increase your driving skills for daily driving or get a taste of high speed driving in a safe environment. You probably say to yourself “I’m not interested in any high speed driving and I haven’t had an accident in X number of years. So there’s not a whole lot that a driving school can do for me.” I’m sure that is a common thought among many of you out there.
However , there is a bit of a misconception to this thought. Let me give you an example not related to driving. Suppose that you are an avid skier. You’ve been skiing for years. But you’re not entirely happy . You can’t seem to shake out of those intermediate blues and make some further progress in your skiing ability. When you first started you took some lessons and progressed from a bumbling plant your-nose-in-the-snow beginner to a smooth-skiing intermediate. After the first couple of years you quit taking ski lessons, figuring that you had all the skills that you needed to know and all that you had to do to progress was put some miles on your skis. But over the years you didn’t make all that much progress. Sure you can ski the groomed runs with great confidence , but you avoid the moguls because you never could get the hang of skiing through them under complete control. You don’t often tackle the runs on the top of the mountain for the same reason. And what about skiing in powder, or crud, or even on ice? Not too likely.
Finally you break down and decide to take some lessons. During those lessons you learn a Jot of little techniques that help you to control your skis better. And knowing how to control your skis better helps you to ski with more confidence,which helps you get through some of those tough runs just a little bit easier.
Well, driving you car is just like skiing. You probably took some drivers ed in High School, and that was undoubtedly the extent of your driving lessons. The rest you learned on your own by just going out there and driving. To really learn how to drive your car with a great deal of skill and confidence you need to learn all the different techniques of car handling. These techniques can’t be picked up in nor mal day-to-day driving. That’s where the Club’s Driving Schools come in. They allow you to get the proper instruction so that you can learn those techniques that make you a better driver.
One of the most important techniques that we teach is how to feel what your car is doing as you drive down the road. Now thin’k about that for a moment. How many of you actually feel how your car is reacting to the road surfaces? When you have the proper feel for a car you can tell by the palm of your hands and the seat of your pantsjust exactly what your car is doing. You’ll know in an instant when your vehicle is starting to lose control, before there are any physical signs of trouble. Those of you who did a lot of driving in the snow this winter may have a small appreciation for driving feel. Did you notice how the steering felt when you went to make a turn and your car didn’t quite turn right away? Did the steering wheel feel really light to the touch like the front of the car was off the ground? Did you continue to turn the wheel? Did you notice that the steering effort increased as you turned more and the car started to allow a little and start to make the turn?
Feel for the car can tell you what your vehicle is doing and is going to do. But you need more to take advantage of your feel for the car. If you feel that you’re going to be in a dangerous situation you need the skills and knowl edge to either avoid or pull you through that situation. That is the purpose of going to a driving school:to obtain the needed skill and knowledge to help you take advantage of your new found feel for the car.
There are other techniques that you will learn, such as proper road vision, how to steer without using the steering wheel, and how to brake suddenly without locking up the brakes (non ABS-equipped cars). All of which will help you to become a better driver even in the drudgery of the daily commute. Former race car d river Denise McCluggage, speaking at the club’s banquet last fall, stated how that it was a small mystery to her that people could take up a new activity, say golf, spend hundreds on equipment and not hestitate to spend a couple hundred more taking lessons to learn to play the game. But that same person would spend tens of thousands on a new high performance car and not give one thought on spending any money to learn to drive it correctly!So take heed of the lady’s advice and spend a little time and money to learn to drive your high performance car the way it was built to be driven. And by the way, compare the price of the Club’s Driv ing School with the cost of attending a professional school. Look on page 19 of the April Zundfolge for price run down of some of the pro schools. Having attended a couple of professional schools myself, I can honestly say that the Club’s Driving School compares very favorably with the professional schools introductory programs.
So mark your calender and make plans to attend this year’s Driving School on July 3rd. You’ll find a registration form in this issue of the Zundfolge. Don’t forget to secure a helmet to use during the Driving School. If you can’t borrow or don’t want to buy a helmet, the Club has a limited number (a very limited number) of loaner hel mets available. There will be more information on the Driving School in the next issue of the newsletter.
This article was originally published in the June 1989 edition of Zundfolge