Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Driver's Ed

Strange day. My father and I drove half an hour to Hörnefors in order to let me attend a three hour course in driver's education. We Swedes take our road safety very seriously, and it is a mandatory course to expose drivers-to-be to hazardous driving conditions, such as heavy rain, slick roads, and black ice. The group of students gathered in the waiting room, and soon we were divided into groups and sent off to individual cars. Our instructor sat in a little glass-paneled tower on a hill overlooking the course of curvy, interlocking roads, from which he would give us instructions by radio. We were all alone in our individual cars, guided only by his voice through the walkie-talkie. He placed me in car number one and made me take point in the caravan, somehow guessing my natural leading abilites. (I have to say, the entire time spent on the course I thought of bumper cars and go-karts and Super Mario and for some reason, shooter games--I had to lead my troops through the misty vales that had descended over enemy territory.)

We were run through a series of courses. Motor your vehicle at high speeds through steep curves on artificially slick roads. Push your car to seventy kilometers per hour and hit the brakes when you get to the cones, measure the distance it takes to stop. Repeat, hitting the brakes at the cones and avoiding the "unexpected obstacles on the road" whilst hit by spray from powerful sprinklers on all sides. I careened down the roads at unnecessary speeds and spun out twice, ending up with a car that faced the wrong way and an instructior clucking into the walkie-talkie.

The instructor finally took us into the headquarters, where our tiny group was walked through scenarios, looked at an actual front half of a wrecked car to take in the damage, stood on scales that showed us our weights as an "obstacle hurled through space at fifty kilometers per hour" (i.e. two and a half tons), learned the proper way to wear seatbelts (bottom belt over the hips and the top strap as close to the neck as possible), and sat in a car, which turned upside down to simulate a wreck.

A good time.

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