Take the wheel by the horns

02.07.2009 | Andriy Levin, special for, PH: V. Kerekesh

Have you ever dreamt of driving like Michael Schumacher, not being afraid of black ice and easily making cool Uturns? You can learn how to master this at driving improvement schools

Its a common knowledge that standard Ukrainian driving schools pay too much attention to theory and too little attention to driving skills. As a result, most people that finish our driving school do not know how to drive, but know everything about the height of a tread pattern of transport trucks and how to help a person with broken ribs. Statistics of the State Automobile Inspection Bureau of the results of such education are very telling. Since the beginning of 2009 the road police registered 15,000 car accidents in which people were injured.

Serhiy Lukyanchuk
Director of the Energy
of Motion top driving skills center

I once represented Ukraine at an international driver training forum in which even representatives of the UN took part. The forums participants argued mainly about what to teach novices. Some of them took a conservative approach, insisting on a maximum speed of 40 km/h, keeping both hands on the steering wheel, staying in one lane, keeping a distance and safety. Representatives of Denmark and Switzerland said there is nothing else to be learned and that todays cars are loaded with a host of modern electronic automatic control systems. Most people disagreed with the conservatives. Any control system works perfectly at speeds up to 60 km/h, though they are useless on slippery road surfaces. Furthermore, drivers that are dependent on an on-board computer are psychologically not prepared to handle extreme road conditions. For example, many drivers total their cars during a snowfall, because they simply never learned techniques to avoid such accidents.
Generally speaking, standard driving schools are the curse of our society. We need a state program that will allow us to create a unified center offering progressive training methods in which drivers will be properly trained before receiving their driver´s license.

Dont mix up gas
and brake pedals

"Actually, 90% of people that finish driving school just bought their driver´s license in a legal manner. Most driving schools work according to the standards adopted and approved back in the 1970s. Such standards are absolutely inapplicable to today´s generation of cars," said Yevhen Serednytskiy, Director of the Korda Profi professional driving school.
Today, there are many driving schools being opened all over the country that are prepared to teach anybody how to really drive a car. Students can choose from all possible programs and courses. Such programs can take a few weeks or even several months and cost anywhere between
UAH 2,000- 7,000.

Speed driving
Professionals advise taking a basic course in driving skill enhancement and then decide where to move on. Typically, the skills of most drivers improve after passing basic driving courses.
"After I finished my lessons I understood why the speed in city traffic should not be over 60 km/hour. At a higher speed, it is simply impossible to steer clear of sudden obstructions on the road. I consciously began fastening my seatbelt after I took precautionary driving lessons," said Yevhen Hryhorash, a recent graduate of a driving school in Kyiv.
One can learn the basics of speed steering in a basic course at any decent driving school. From the outside, the learning process looks rather amusing- a bunch of grown-ups sitting in chairs behind a wheel attached to a desk. The true test is when learners hit the training ground, where they have to show the driving skills they learned in the classroom.
"Driving a car essentially depends on the ability of turning a steering wheel fast and understanding the position of the front wheels," says Serhiy Lukyanchuk, an instructor of the Energy of Motion top driving skills center.
Speed steering skills are needed to get through a serpentine, a U-turn or other stunts. The basic course also includes exercises aimed at teaching drivers to properly and safely park a vehicle. Students of specialized driving schools will also be taught how to drive in reverse through rear-window and side mirrors.

Tuning up to your car
At first glance, this program has some unnecessary frills. Most drivers are not likely to pull a U-turn on a busy highway. However, one should not underestimate the significance of such a practice. Instructors say the main objective is for a driver to overcome the fear from a spinning car. "This is a very important element of psychological preparation, which is considered one of the most important factors in training an experienced driver," according to driving instructors.
All surveyed drivers unanimously recommend taking lessons in one´s privately owned vehicle. First of all, this is a saving of approximately UAH 1,000. Secondly, if you take lessons in a strange car you will adapt to it. When you sit behind the wheel of your own car, you will have to readapt. Finally, the load on a car while performing the most complicated stunts is not as great as it seems. The tires suffer the most during training sessions, while other parts feel practically no overload.

The right way to drive
When deciding to go for driving lessons, be sure to choose the right instructor. A diploma or trophy is not the be-all, end-all. Moreover, good racecar drivers are not necessarily good instructors. Attend one lesson as an observer. If an instructor raises their voice, look for a different one. The fact is that such an instructor is unable to psychologically pass on his skills to a student.
The technical base of a school is equally important. If you are offered driving lessons in an old dilapidated Zhiguli, find another school. Having the chance to learn to drive a car with an automatic transmission and a choice between front and rear drives is also important. If the school cannot provide these options, they are not worthy.
It is important for a school to have a safe driving range for practical exercises. It should be spacious and flat without curbs. It is not a good thing when there are many vehicles driving on the range. After all, safety is number one.
Finally, pay attention to your fellow students. If there are many security guards, police officers or employees from special services among them, this is the driving school you need, even if the students are mostly women. These are not lessons for blondes. Intelligent women that just got their driver´s license are often scared to sit behind a wheel, which is why they go for additional lessons to improve their driving skills.
So, if you are not confident in your driving skills, want to rid your fear of the road, are not opposed to making friends with the president´s security service and are not afraid of being in the company of intelligent women, you can fearlessly enhance you driving skills.

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