Learning how to drive more safely by practicing dangerous moves.
What are the top three safety-related things you do when you get ready to drive? If I had to guess, your list would be similar to mine.
1. Put on your seatbelt.
2. Adjust your mirrors.
3. Put down your phone.
We know at least these are three things we should be doing. A seatbelt is a must for me, 100% of the time, without question. The mirrors, however, I forget to check because usually I’m the only one driving my car. My husband does mess with these from time to time, though, and I don’t realize it until I go to check my rearview mirror. And finally, that pesky can’t-live-without-it, can’t-drive-with-it phone.
But there’s so much more you can be doing in preparation for a safe drive and even more to be thinking about once you’re on the road.
It’s hard to drive on the ice when you have no ice.
When I traveled to California in January for the launch of the new 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country, we were supposed to be given the opportunity to learn and practice a little ice driving. However, there was one key ingredient missing: ICE.
With unseasonably warm temperatures in the High Sierras, not only did I have to cancel my cross-country skiing adventure, but we also had find an alternate driving experience.
While the ice would have been a fun experience (and in hindsight, a much slower experience), our Volvo driving instructors decided to put us to the test with some evasive driving maneuvers.
It’s not for the faint of heart (or stomach).
Swedish drivers do know best.
He started our “lesson” with a few simple safety instructions for the driver.
1. Put on your seatbelt.
Yay! We got that one right!
2. Move your coat or jacket back and make sure your seatbelt is actually tight across the hips.
You’d be surprised the difference a few inches can make when you make the adjustment.
3. Move your seat forward.
All this time I thought I needed to be as far away as possible from the steering wheel in case of airbag deployment. As it turns out, you want to be close enough so that your arms form an angle at the elbow and your legs still have a bend when the brake is depressed all the way. This avoids having your limbs locked and likely broken in the case of a collision.
We were off to a genius start. I was learning something already! And then he made us drive.
Feeling like a stunt driver
Each of us took turns behind the wheel with two evasive driving maneuvers. The first involved a rapid acceleration (up to 55 mph) and then a hard stop as we passed some marked cones. The idea was to simulate a sudden and unexpected object in your path. While the braking was easy, we also had to swerve through an obstacle area while maintaining complete control of the car and then bring it to a complete stop.
Truth be told, I was terrified. Although there was no real risk of accident, it was my instinct to not want to suddenly brake at 55 mph and do a hard swerve. As it turns out, it’s something that was actually exhilarating! I found I could brake and swerve without any issues. My only problem was that I often failed to come to a complete stop. I guess I had my mind on escaping the scene of the crime.
Next up was a slalom of sorts. There were mini-cones placed on the ground and our goal was to swerve in and out in a rapid succession while maintaining control of the vehicle (we did it both with and without the traction control – HUGE difference). The key here was to keep your elbows bent and move your arms back and forth and not your entire body.
It’s not often you get a chance to practice evasive maneuvers without actually having to evade something. Poa was a driving genius and I walked away with a new sense of confidence on the road. But I will also admit, once I got home, it was tough not to try out the maneuvers on my own car.
Regardless of how my car might have done (no, I didn’t chance it), I was extremely impressed at the handling of the Volvo V60 even without the ice driving. It turned out to be a better experience for me anyway as most of my driving is not done on the ice.
How confident do you feel behind the wheel? Have you ever had the chance to put your vehicle’s safety control features to the test?