Do any of you as bioptic drivers do 4WDing? Or want to? Here is my certificate to show I passed the three day Basic 4WD Driver Training – and am really looking forward to doing more 4WDing and supporting my partner whom is the main driver.
In February 2019 I did a 4WD course with Southern Tablelands 4WD Club and took the opportunity to do my disability leadership thing. Am so very grateful to ST4WDC in taking my training in their stride and being so very supportive of bioptics and bioptic low vision driving. You can check them out and their courses here:
They asked me to present to the class of students about the bioptic and why I was using it. The head instructor used positive and inclusive language to talk about the bioptic on the benefits that it is fantastic and life changing. As a result, the students embraced me and were helpful knowing my poor vision.
My instructor was very impressed how I used the bioptic to do the job and managed my own pace and situation. Here is an interview I did with Robert Pepper, one of the club members who runs a FB automotive magazine. He was amazed and wanted to put the word out in case bioptics can help others.
As a person with vision impairment who uses a bioptic to drive and only been driving for three years, I knew this training was going to require some adaption but having observed with my partner do the course last year I believed it was achievable. I can highly recommend that if any person who does things differently would like to see if they can 4WD that they are able to be given opportunity to observe as I did and then learn and consider if and how they can apply what needs to be done to how they need to do it. Further, whilst I did observe last time, there is nothing like actually doing the training yourself to give you that hands on muscle memory and for me that is essential as I learn by doing.
I need to give whole hearted credit to my trainer who was amazing both with skill and flexibility to take things in his stride by firstly listening to me about what I can and cannot see but also and most importantly, not making assumptions about what he thought I can and cannot see or do. This is really difficult for most people. It is a tribute to him that I progress so well through the course.
I went along just wanting to learn to 4WD so I could take the wheel to support my partner when we go on trips. I considered my learning would be slow and methodical taking it in my stride and just being happy as to where I am at. However to my surprise I progressed at the same pace as the other students, even with some modifications and not knowing the car as it is not my daily drive.
As an example, there is a cone exercise where the instructor puts a coloured cone on the ground and you have to drive forward and put your right front wheel and then left front wheel on top of that cone. This skill is required so you can learn where your wheels as under you as you drive so you can position your vehicle exactly over an obstacle such as a rut or offsets or a rock. The other part of the cone exercise is to reverse your truck around a pole as a u-turn without knocking the pole down.
For the cone exercise I truly did not think I would be able to place the wheels so close to the cone on both sides nor to be able to back the big dual cab ute around the pole. But I did all of that and without too much effort. What helped is knowing my disability and what I need to see which is high contrast. So in preparation we had bought black and white tape to place on the bonnet to mark where the tires sit under the bonnet. Whereas other students used cable ties that I struggled to see. Doing the course also allowed me to figure out what times of the day I struggle to see the terrain and think about how to compensate for such. For example, certain times of the day when the sun shines into the cab I have difficulty seeing out so needed to slow the car, ensure the windshield is clean and sometimes look outside the window instead of the windscreen. Being all at low speed allowed me to think and drive.
Lastly, the comradeship developed with co-trainees really topped off the experience. All such lovely people, trainees and trainers alike. People were greatly supportive of each other and certainly felt safe and professionalism was key. The bon fires on Friday and Saturday night made for relaxing social time and great viewing.
Here are some pictures and videos of my experience. These include manuevring on rough terain up and down hills, how to tackle ruts, how to understand if you can drive over an object or to find another way and much more.
The above two videos are of 4WD snatch exercise. This is a very important aspect you must learn with 4WD. You need to know the gear you need and how to use it. We then get to demonstrate being snatched by another vehicle i.e. being pulled out. And we learn to snatch another vehicle.
|Belinda in drivers seat with instructor in passenger seat driving over offset mounds|
|Driving over offset mounds giving a wave|
|Driving up steep incline around a corner that has a rock preceding and under the front left wheel.|