DO SMART SAFETY SYSTEMS
MAKE DRIVING PROFICIENCY
TRAINING COURSES UNNECESSARY?
TEXT / PHOTOGRAPHS // BURO N11 - WOUTER VASTENHOUT / INGMAR TIMMER
Driver assistance systems are getting better all the time. Volvo’s City Safety helps drivers avoid collisions with vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals throughout the day and night. And if a new Volvo should suddenly stray across the outer road markings, Run-off-Road Protection will actively return it to its original position in the traffic lane. Is this the end of the road for driving proficiency training courses? My Volvo asked Mark Maaskant, the managing director of Prodrive Training.
Prodrive Training specializes in better, safer and more fuel-efficient driving, according to this Lelystad-based company’s site. Does the introduction of smart driver assistance systems mean that driving proficiency training courses no longer serve a useful purpose? Mark feels that this is a very valid question. “After all, these systems are constantly improving. If you start to skid they will get you out of it, or stop it happening in the first place. Nevertheless, more than 22,000 people are seriously injured every year in road traffic accidents. And this figures excludes any broken arms or legs. Furthermore, no less than 95 percent of all accidents are due to driver error.”
“When you double your speed, your braking distance is increased by a factor of four. That’s a fact.”
MARK MAASKANT, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF PRODRIVE TRAINING
In cooperation with Prodrive, the Volvo Cars Driving Academy is offering a range of driving proficiency training courses to Volvo drivers who hold a Volvo Card. These courses are intended to teach drivers how all of Volvo’s safety systems and driver assistance systems function, without losing sight of the sheer pleasure of driving.
FROM COMPETENCE ORIENTED TO PROMOTING AWARENESS
The above shows that it makes sense to have your driving proficiency tested every now and then. “If only because you cannot ignore the laws of physics”, adds Mark. “No driver assistance system in the world can do anything about that. When you double your speed, your braking distance is increased by a factor of four. That’s a fact. That is why we at Prodrive focus less on the capabilities of the system in question, and more on the behavior of the man or woman behind the wheel. Driving proficiency training courses have evolved. In the past, they were competence-oriented (how do I get the car out of this skid), these days it’s all about promoting awareness (how do I make the best possible use of every system in the car to maximize my safety on the road?)”
SLIPPING AND SLIDING
Even though driving proficiency training courses have evolved, cars still occasionally shoot off Prodrive’s skidpan. “We do a lot of slipping and sliding” says Mark, with a laugh. “Most recently, this was during the Volvo Young Driving Course (intended for motorists in the 17-27 age group, ed.) The Volvo involved was an older model, which was heavy and had no systems. And then you end up spinning out of control. Later on, a Volvo XC90 tried out the same skidpan, and had no problems at all. Driver assistance systems have certainly proved their worth. You just have to know how to make the best possible use of them. So this is the approach we take during the driving proficiency training course”, Mark concludes. *