By Annette Dashofy
On week #2, we got our first hands-on experience of the class.
The computerized driving simulator is a fairly new piece of equipment. Ours was the first class to use it.
When I was in high school, back when dinosaurs walked the earth, our school was deemed extremely advanced and high tech because we had driving simulators. Let me tell you, they were nothing like this. Each CPA student got a turn behind the wheel and each got to experience a different scenario lasting about 10 minutes.
In one case, the computer provided a variety of distractions such as a nagging ringing cell phone. In another, it simulated driving while impaired. As in intoxicated. The car just refused to cooperate! Another student had to deal with an assortment of opportunities to avoid head-on collisions. That poor girl lost her rearview mirror, her front fender, and finally took a hit when a pickup truck swerved into her lane.
All of the scenarios dealt with a variety of weather and driving conditions.
When it was my turn, I was given the task of driving a “safe distance” behind other vehicles. The computer voice instructed me to buckle up, put my foot on the brake, start the engine, shift into drive, look both ways, and pull out when safe. She also directed me to make turns at upcoming intersections. At each turn, I found myself behind another vehicle.
I never (okay, RARELY) tailgate, so I figured this would be simple. Not.
When I got too close, I received a verbal and visual warning. So I drove VERY SLOWLY. That was when Trooper Mungo pointed out to me that I could be ticketed for driving too slow, too. But every time I sped up, the blasted thing yammered at me that I was driving too close for conditions! Those conditions included rain, snow, and darkness.
At the end of each ten-minute simulation, the computer scored the driver on how many violations they’d had. My score wasn’t too shabby. I admit, I didn’t have the best one in the class…too many points for driving too slow…but at least I didn’t completely humiliate myself.
Next week, I’ve been told we’re having a test on Vehicle Codes. Test? I didn’t realize we’d be having tests when I signed up for this! Oh, well. Part two of next week’s class involves Crash Investigation.
I wonder…do the students who fail the test have to play the crash victims?