Saturday, July 25, 2009

Skidding and Spinning

Before leaving Tulsa I had to complete Schlumberger's Light Vehicle Training (LVT). Most of this was kind of boring: sitting in the classroom or doing commentary drives. For a commentary drive, you drive around town and tell the driving instructor whatever you see going on around you and why you are driving the way you are driving. You're supposed to be showing that you are using the techniques taught in class and that you are a safe, defensive driver. For example, "There's some oncoming traffic so the right lane is safest at the moment, I see a red signal light up ahead, I'm checking my mirrors before braking to make sure no one is following too closely... light is green, I'm scanning the intersection before proceeding, I'm leaving a safe follwing distance in front of me" and so on, as a fairly constant stream of speaking. Actually, after doing it for a while it feels weird to not talk when the instructor says you can rest your voice. But anyway, there was actually an exciting part to the driver training. It was called Advanced Skill Maneuvers, where we learned to avoid head-on collisions and control skids. The training center has a driving course with a big pad that's covered in something that makes the surface really slippery when it gets wet. We each got in a pick-up specially rigged for this, and we got to feel what it's like to go into a rear wheel skid and a front wheel skid. On the rear wheel skid, the instructor said to cut the wheel hard to the side to make the truck spin around. It was actually a little scary even in that controled environment, but it was really cool. Then on the next pass we had to control the skid by gently steering in the direction of the skid to keep the vehicle facing forward. It was good practice because although I've driven in the snow, I've never been in a skid that serious. The Schlumberger trucks normally have antilock brakes, but they were disabled on these trucks so that the wheels would lock up for the skidding. We also learned how to avoid a head-on collision in a non-ABS truck, where steering and braking have to be separate actions. We were taught to brake hard, then turn the wheel quickly while letting up on the brake. We drove through a course where something would pop up in the road for us to avoid. It was really fun, and definitely a good thing to be comfortable with, although I'm still not sure if I'd be able to do it in a panic situation.

Overall, LVT was pretty fun, and it was especially nice to not have homework! It was a relaxing end to my time in Tulsa. The only bad thing is that my roommate Carla had to leave early because she dislocated her elbow and couldn't do the driving! So the apartment was a little lonely for a few days. But we all promised to meet up again at some point, so hopefully it won't be too long before I see her.

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