6 Reasons to Take an Advanced Driving Course
So, you think you’re handy behind the wheel? Have you ever tested your skills at an advanced driving course? Well I decided to take up the invite from Mercedes-Benz Melbourne to attend the Mercedes-Benz ACCELERATE Drive Day held at Sandown. This is a day usually reserved for Mercedes-Benz’s VIP clients, so I gladly put my hand up to test out the latest wheels on and around the track.
That all started with a ‘hot lap’ from V8 super car driver Renee Gracie. She’s just a tad handy behind the wheel and took to the wet, greasy Sandown track like a duck to water! We then had the opportunity to test our driving skills, with some bald tyre driving in ESC mode, some solid ABS test braking from 100km/h to 0km/h and a fast lap opportunity guided by our professional instructor around Sandown. And let’s not forgot the chance to drive a truck, the new Actros range. For such a huge vehicle, it was like driving a standard car!
So that brings me to my reasons to take an advanced driving course. Here goes:
- Learn the safety and comfort features of your car. If you own a Mercedes-Benz (“MB”) like me, it was great to understand how the features work properly. As an example, I wasn’t aware that if you have Intelligent Headlights in your MB, then you should leave them permanently on high-beam. In Europe, high-beam is known as ‘main beam’ and lights are dipped for oncoming cars. Intelligent Headlights detect traffic ahead and reduce the beam to avoid blinding other drivers. So there’s no need to turn on high beam again.
- Practice how to hold the steering wheel correctly. We’re old told at driving school as learners to hold the wheel at the 10 and 2 positions. Well this is in fact, incorrect. The best position for control is at 9 and 3, where the steering wheel crosses. You put your thumbs in each corner and lock your fingers around the wheel. You should also ensure you’re steering wheel is high enough and your seat is lower to the ground to get a better view of the road (according to the professional instructors!).
- Learn how to handle the car in the wet. This is something you don’t often practice at home, so it’s great to get into an open space where you can understand how to steer and brake in wet conditions.
- Understand 4 wheel drive. At Sandown, there’s an off-road 4WD track with deep water holes, ankle deep mud and a vertical hill. Driving in a G55 with a triple diff lock system allowed you to control the car beautifully through the terrain.
- Practice braking suddenly. Around the track, there were designated witches hats in place to hit the brakes hard when travelling 80km/h and 100km/h. It was interesting that for every 20km/h in speed added, it adds 45ft of braking distance!
- See how the best in the business do it. My instructor was Matt MacKelden, a former race car driver now professional instruction (2016 Instructor of the Year). He drove the cards seamlessly, but has had years of experience doing it. And watching Renee Gracie boot around Sandown at 200km+ in the passenger seat was also a great buzz, so fast my R RayBan glasses were stuck to my face by the end!
Now get online and book that Advanced Driving course, you’ll feel so much more confident behind the wheel once you understand how your car and the road functions!