PROPER VISION: Glen Jocumsen is part of the team at Roadcraft hoping to help reduce the road toll.
PROPER VISION: Glen Jocumsen is part of the team at Roadcraft hoping to help reduce the road toll. Scott Kovacevic

'Without a doubt, the training here saved my life'

HER LandCruiser fishtailing out of control in torrential rain, Sharlene Makin said Roadcraft's training was the only thing which stood between safety and a serious accident.

"The old me would have fixated on the threat which was the roundabout I was heading into, and cars," Ms Makin said, highlighting the way Roadcraft's program had changed her focus.

Now it was no longer on where the car was going, but where she wanted it to go.

Where once she would have oversteered, she instead brought the car to a safe stop - protecting the lives of her daughter and herself.

As Roadcraft chief executive officer, Ms Makin's experience gives her a perspective on the importance of teaching drivers strategies on how to keep safe on the road.

"Governments and other organisations focus on the why we should drive safe, but I think that's been done to death and everybody knows why," she said.

"But who's looking after the how? How to drive safe?

"That's the bit that Roadcraft does."

 

Sharlene Makin and Glen Jocumsen hope to widen the educational horizons of drivers.
Sharlene Makin and Glen Jocumsen hope to widen the educational horizons of drivers. Jacob Carson

Safety on the road is about more than the ability to handle a car though, operations co-ordinator and driver educator Glen Jocumsen said.

Mr Jocumsen said it was crucial drivers gave serious thought to what they were realistically capable of.

"They don't understand human limitations and how quickly stuff can go wrong on the road," he said.

While modern driver training allows people to get a licence, Ms Makin and Mr Jocumsen believe there are serious flaws in what new drivers are being taught.

"The majority of people are taught... to look down and at the rear of the car in front when we actually believe that's wrong," Mr Jocumsen said.

"We're teaching everyone to get their eyes to the horizon as far as they can, and drive down here (in front of the car) with their lower peripheral vision," he said.

He said attitude was equally important, and could easily be added to the Fatal Five as having the potential to kill.

Early in classes, he said drivers were asked to rate themselves on a scale of one to 10, with one being novice and 10 being ready for a V8 racing contract.

"I had a learner write the number 11 beside the 10 and circle the number 11," he said.

"So that's the attitude, and you see that regularly."

Overconfidence was not the only problem, though.

Tailgating, failure to properly observe traffic, and fixating on hazards and threats were also serious problems Roadcraft aimed to make drivers aware of.

Mr Jocumsen estimated about 2000 people passed Roadcraft's training every year, ranging from primary school students to drivers who already had years of experience behind the wheel.

And asked about feedback on the courses, or if they'd helped to save lives?

"We've got loads of stories, loads of stories," Ms Makin said.

A recent one stood out for Mr Jocumsen: a paramedic riding his motorbike to Kilcoy one Friday who found himself facing a car on the wrong side of the road.

He said the man had paid particular attention to what he was taught about cornering.

"He sent us an amazing email on Monday morning and said 'categorically, without a doubt, the training here had saved my life on Friday afternoon on the way home'."

"His corner line had him in a safe situation. If he'd have been the 'normal' driver... he'd have been killed."

Gympie Times


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