Story & photos by Hazel de Burgh, Volunteer Coordinator & Co-Chair of the Event (from Provinz July 2015 page 18)
In the weeks leading up to our first 2015 Tire Rack Street Survival School on May 31, there were many details to check. Review the equipment list – who is bringing each item, and do they know what they’ve been assigned to bring? Check. Review and update the meeting notes for the student, coach and volunteer meetings – do they cover our latest thinking on the learning objectives for each exercise? Check. Review the pre-event communications – do we ask students to check and fill their tires as recommended on the sticker inside their driver’s-side door? Check. Review the registration lists – do we have enough volunteers? Check. Review the forecast – do we need any extra tents? Check.
Hold on a minute though! After several weeks of summer-like temperatures, a cold front was coming through. The forecasters were predicting a high of 27°C on the day before the event, and a high of only 9°C on the day of the event, with rain. What a change! Of course the rain would provide excellent conditions for students to learn about car control skills, but a lot of people might be caught unaware! Send out a warning about the weather forecast to all students and volunteers. Check.
Despite the forecast, that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits! A total of 62 volunteers braved the cold and wet weather to help 43 students become safer drivers at our first Tire Rack Street Survival School of the season. 39 of these students were in our target market, with ?10 years of driving experience.
This event was held in the northern lots of Seneca College at Finch and the 404, in a collaborative effort between the BMW Trillium Club and the Porsche Club Upper Canada Region. Trillium first brought this training to Canada in 2012, and UCR started supporting the program in 2013, initially by providing volunteers, then by supporting the planning, marketing and running of each event since then.
And what a collaborative effort it’s been! All as a community service initiative.
Volunteers from both clubs filled the roles of event organizers, coaches and general volunteers. While UCR provided the classroom instructors and chief coach, Trillium provided the course setters and tech leaders, plus most of the equipment. New for this year was a line spreader which worked very well to help students navigate the twisty combined skills course. Filling it with flour from the wet 20kg bags didn’t work so well though! Needless to say, that was a messy task.
There were a total of 8 exercises, 2 demos, 3 classroom sessions and a safety talk. A lot to organize! For each exercise, students had an in-car coach to help them learn and then practice their skills.
In the morning, after the tech inspection was complete, all wheel bolts were torqued and tire pressures were checked, students started the day in a “wake-nbrake” exercise, which gave students an opportunity to learn emergency braking. Then three introductory meetings were held: Isi Papadopolous told the students what they could expect for the day, while Martin Tekela, Chief Coach talked with the in-car coaches about their role and the learning objectives for each exercise, while I talked with the rest of the volunteers about their roles and how to support the exercises, including directing traffic, picking up cones, sweeping corn and waving flags.SSS 13
Then half of the group attended the classroom, taught by UCR’s Mario Marrello and Kim Viney, who alternated with the rest of the group that was split to do the morning exercises:
• Slalom Vision: Students learned the importance of distance vision when steering.
• Car Control: Students learned the difference between under and over-steer, and how to correct for both. New this year was about 400lbs of cracked corn which dramatically reduced the traction of their tires. A perfect surface to learn on!
• Accident Avoidance: Students learned how to safely manoeuvre their cars to avoid an accident. Students drove full speed towards a volunteer in the distance who waved a flag at the last moment to simulate an obstacle to be avoided, such as an oncoming vehicle in the wrong lane, an elk, or a child running after a ball. As this exercise progressed, students learned the importance of looking at where they wanted to go, rather than looking at the obstacle.
• Cornering Skills: Students learned how to look beyond a corner when turning.
Lunch time was busy too, with two demos and a special presentation:
• Airbag Demo: We deployed a couple of airbags to show how much force they exert. Everyone agreed that they didn’t ever want to experience such a blast in their cars!
• Truck Demo. We positioned 6 cars around a large transport truck and invited students to climb into the truck to see which cars they could and could not see. Without convex mirrors, the right side is aptly named the “sui-side”.
• Road Safety Presentation: Police Constable Hugh Smith, from the Toronto Police Traffic Services Division gave an informative presentation about safety on our roads and how the laws are changing to make them safer. He talked about distracted driving, stunt driving and answered questions on rules of the road.
Then the parking lot was reconfigured for three more exercises, alternating with the final classroom sessions:
• Combined Skills: This exercise provided students with an opportunity to put it all together in a twisty course: including braking, car control, vision, accident avoidance and cornering skills.
• Distracted Driving: This exercise gave students an opportunity to learn about the dangers of texting while driving – needless to say, our volunteer team chased many cones in this exercise.
• Figure 8 Skid Pad: This exercise presented an added challenge to students’ car control skills, and continued on cracked corn.
As the day progressed, it was great to see the students’ smiles as they gained more confidence and skills. And I don’t think I heard one complaint about the weather!
Registration is now open for the next SSS event on September 27th – for participants and volunteers – at the Brampton Powerade Centre. Check out UCR’s Tire Rack Street Survival School webpage as follows: http://pcaucr.org/driving/street-survival-school/.
And if you know anyone who might like to join us, as a student or a volunteer, please invite them!