Saber Driving Course takes new spin on safe driving

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natasha E. Stannard
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Screeching fills the air as rubber meets the road at a mere 30 mph, but the screeching leads to no damage -- only lessons learned as students use techniques taught to regain control of their vehicle during the Saber Driving Course here.

"It was a great opportunity to do this in a controlled area rather than the real world," said Staff Sgt. Hollie Null, course attendee who came from the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron, Vogelweh Military Complex, Germany.

The course is required for all Spangdahlem Airmen under the age of 26 and those who've had their license revoked, but is open to others as well. Members of the 52nd Fighter Wing and its geographically seperated units,as well as Ramstein Air Base members and family members with a U.S. Armed Forces Europe drivers license, can sign up for the course, the only one of its kind in the Air Force, through unit safety representatives.

Before the driving portion of the course begins, students attend classroom training to discuss driver's readiness, distractions in their vehicle and different driving techniques, said Master Sgt. Victoriano Rodriguez, 52nd Fighter Wing Safety traffic safety manager.

"They taught me to have more control of the vehicle and that the amount of following distance you give the vehicle in front of you can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding a collision," Null said.

Students also learn about of various programs on base to prevent drinking and driving and are shown the effects of past accidents.

"I've seen a lot of traffic accidents they referred to in the classroom and I think it's really important that they show people what to expect, especially when driving narrower roads with the amount of snowfall we have here," said Staff Sgt. Edmond Kriger, course attendee from the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron.

After students learn defensive driving techniques, they test them with an instructor in the Skid Monster vehicle. This car simulates driving in hazardous conditions. Instructors control when the car skids so students can make proper corrections to prevent losing control of the vehicle.

"Driving the Skid Monster is just like driving in inclement weather without the inclement weather," Rodriguez said. "The course is really an eye opener. Right off the bat, students drive the way they normally drive and see what could happen if they were actually in inclement weather."

As students drive through different obstacles and participate in following distance and speed exercises they learn not only to control the car by using proper speeds, but how to regain control of the car if it fishtails or skids, which can happen in any type of weather.

"We're teaching them to be defensive drivers so they can identify any dangers in front of them -- this isn't just the way to drive in inclement weather, it's the way to drive all the time," Rodriguez said.