|Subliminal Training improves defensive driving|
|Friday, April 12, 2013 12:04 PM|
Tom Osting became a driving instructor and training manager after retiring from school bus driving. He was certified in 2001 after completing 62 hours of training through a program administered by the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Columbus. Osting averages 15-25 hours of in-car instruction and filling in when needed in the classroom setting.
Trena Proffitt Bartz has 32 years experience in law enforcement and began teaching classes in 2010. She typically logs over 80 hours of drive time in a three-week time-frame and teaches in the 24-hour classroom 6-7 times a year. She believes her acquired teaching certifications and relevancy enables a solid learning environment for her students.
Rick Reaver, who retired from the Highway Patrol in 2007, has been a driving instructor off and on for over 30 years and is a licensed driving instructor and certified training manager. As a trooper, he instructed cadets and police officers at the academy with maneuvering, pursuit driving and high-speed backing. He has also been a driving instructor for the law enforcement program at Apollo. In addition, Reaver teaches Saturday traffic school for first-time juvenile traffic offenders for Allen and Van Wert County juvenile courts.
Osting, Bartz and Reaver bring decades of professional experience, insight and perceptions to in-car and in-classroom driving instruction and each have a poignant view on the importance of their job. Bartz sums it up best.
“As I see it, my job is threefold: Keep them out of the morgue. Keep them out of the hospital. Keep them out of court,” he said.
While on the road, each instructor teaches varying degrees of defensive driving with the goal of passing along the tools to keep everyone on the road safe.
During in-car instruction, Bartz explained that she takes the first-time out student on curvy county roads, comprised of dirt and/or loose stones for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. The remaining 6 hours encompasses driving on curvy roads with small hills, in areas with heavier traffic and on expressways. Students practice maneuverability each time, unless he/she aced it the first time.
“I tell my students that the car is just an extension of the classroom,” Reaver reasoned. “There are many topics and driving techniques that are still taught during the driving time.”
Osting and Reaver share a similar view of on-line driver’s training programs recently approved by the state. They feel there is no continuity between the online training and the driving time, no classroom interaction, no instructor insights and no clarification of discrepancies between actual Ohio law and a generic driver’s education book.
Completion of a driver education course requires a student attend a minimum of 24 hours of classroom training and successfully pass the final exam by obtaining a score of 75 percent or higher. Once the classroom training is completed then the student must satisfactorily complete a minimum of 8 hours driving with a state certified driving instructor. Once the student has successfully completed the driver education course, they are provided a “Certificate of Completion.”
Each instructor has experienced unnerving events while out on the road with a student. Just this past January, Bartz and her student were involved in a rollover.
As with all jobs, there are aspects of driver training that are very appealing and some that are not so appealing. Osting’s favorite part of the job is being with young people, keeping up with the culture and talking about educational goals. Bartz thinks the coolest thing is when one of her young drivers points out illegal or unsafe actions of other drivers. A strong indicator they are paying attention to the instructions they have received from parents and in the classroom.
“I love working with this age group on any level, because I am still just a big kid at heart,” she added. “I have no intention of ever totally growing up!”
Reaver enjoys teaching his students car maintenance and emergency scenarios; how to check the oil, identify and explain all fluid reservoirs, proper use of jumper cables and how to change a tire. He insists that students practice changing a tire (with parental supervision) on the vehicle that they will be driving, which reduces potential problems experienced in the driveway rather than along the side of a dark highway.
In contrast, Reaver explained the least enjoyable aspect of training is when inclement weather limits the amount of time students want to be outside the car learning how to change a tire.