HOCKENHEIM, Germany — As part of the 7th Civil Support Command’s safety office accident prevention campaign, members of the 773rd Civil Support Team, 7th CSC, participated in a drivers’ improvement training course, instructed by the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobile-Club, Aug. 6.
The drivers’ improvement training allowed the participants to experience different situations with their vehicles in a safe, controlled environment at the Hockenheim-Ring ADAC Traffic Safety Center.
“The training assists our unit by showing the Soldiers that there are still counter options in a bad situation, while driving, to try and prevent an accident,” said Sgt. 1st Class Garret H. Mitchell III, a 773rd CST logistics NCO.
“The training is important, because we drive our vehicles all throughout the European theater with different situations,” Mitchell said.
The training allowed the drivers to understand how their vehicle reacts at different speeds and road conditions and how to recognize the dangers present in order to avoid or react appropriately to minimize damage.
“Where else can Soldiers conduct this type of training without endangering the public,” said Dante E. Azul, 7th CSC safety manager.
“Most Soldiers received drivers’ training in high school and during initial licensing process, which is a long time ago,” Azul said. “(There is) no specialized training for driving different vehicles, such as these Ford F-250 crew cabs.”
Prior to beginning the course, Soldiers were given a safety briefing by Anitta Loeffler, the ADAC safety course instructor. The Soldiers then loaded into their unit’s crew cab cargo trucks and were given a guided tour of the course.
The course consisted of multiple driving areas consisting of both dry and wet surfaces. Drivers conducted slalom driving, emergency braking, obstacle avoidance and short notice reaction.
Loeffler also discussed several areas of importance for proper positioning of the driver inside of the vehicle to allow for a safer driving experience.
“We tend to become complacent after years of driving, and it was good to sharpen our skills and re-emphasize the importance of even the small things, like hand and seat placement,” said Sgt. 1st Class Folayan M. Parks, an operations NCO from the 773rd CST.
In the emergency braking course Soldiers learned that stopping distances increase with increased speeds. The stopping distance at 60 kph (37 mph) is more than double that of the 40 kph (25 mph) stopping distance. On wet surfaces, these stopping distances are increased greatly.
“I really enjoyed emergency braking on a wet road at 80 kph (50 mph),” Parks said. “Slamming on the brakes in those conditions was a good reminder of the importance of the proper wearing of your seatbelt.”
After the training was conducted, the drivers put their skills to the test on a course that produced short notice water wall obstacles.