Last weekend I attended the 2013 Shell Helix D-Academy defensive driving course, a program that involves a lot of practicals and not just the typical “drive around the city and explain what you see” kinda deal.
The 1-day program is separated into classroom and several practical sessions. I just want to share a little on what I learned and urge that if you are a daily driver, try to get yourself into one of these, or any defensive driving classes for that matter in the interest of self improvement. No matter how well we think we are as a driver (and that everyone else is an idiot on the road), there’re always things we can learn when it comes to safer driving.
Shell Helix D-Academy defensive driving course at MAEPS
In the classroom session conducted by Harvinder Singh of Paultan.org, we were taught the proper seating positions, ways to avoid obstacles, and technologies such as ABS, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and even safety tips for female drivers.
During the practical, we covered several topics:
Seating Position: the correct seating position is one that allows you to rest the wrist on the top of the steering wheel while seated relatively upright, and be able to depress the brake fully while not having your leg fully straighten. Adjust the steering wheel and/or the seat to achieve this.
Steering Wheel Position: always keep the hands on 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock position, and use the hand-over-hand method while turning the wheels. This will ensure the fastest response in obstacle avoidance while maintaining proper control at all time.
Hyundai Veloster and i10 are among the cars we used
Understeering and Oversteering: In this two part practical, we learned how to handle the front-wheel drive car (in this case, the Hyundai i10) while understeering or oversteering incidences occur. For the most part, taking the foot off the gas and blipping the brakes a little while steering to the right direction will fix the problem. We also tried the same exercised with the Elantra and experienced how the ESC system helps in these situations.
Obstacle Avoidance: Drive the car at a certain speed, and make a quick left and right turn to avoid obstacle on the road (a cone in this case), this exercise demonstrated the advantage of proper steering method to the fullest extend.
Steering During Emergency Brake: In this exercise, we had to apply the brake fully while avoiding the obstacle. This showcases that modern cars equipped with ABS and its ability to steer under hard braking. The video above is a failed attempt (slow steering response)
Slalom Course: Finally, a slalom course that allowed us to put everything that we learned into use. We did a practice run and a couple timed run on the Hyundai Veloster. Most everyone managed to improve their time on the second run, it was like a mini Gymkhana competition, it was fun!
At the end of the day, we each received a completion certificate and a bottle of 4 liter Shell Helix Ultra 5W-40 fully synthetic engine oil. I’d say that was a very fruitful Saturday!
In a separate event by Shell Lubricants division a couple months ago, I got to meet the host of Freedom Riders Asia, Charley Brooman, live in person. The six episod program takes the audience across 6 different countries in Asia while on two wheels. The countries are Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, India, Vietnam and Thailand.
The program airs on STAR Sports channel.