Earlier this month, four drivers who had participated in a competition organized by Service Partner as part of a Mercedes-Benz Trucks campaign had the privilege of perfecting their driving on the slippery surface of the Jesco training ground in Puurs- Sint-Amands. Equipped with their mask and their hydroalcoholic gel, Covid-19 obliges, the drivers took advantage of this instructive afternoon to perfect their braking and driving technique.

It was one of those gloomy mornings, when the weather reports only mentioned rain. The weather conditions were therefore perfect for Mercedes-Benz Trucks Belgium-Luxembourg to put to the test the skills of the four drivers who had won the Service Partner competition: Alexander Demeulenaere, Brecht Vanruymbeke, David De Keyser and Brecht Dhaeyere. On the way to a controlled skidding lesson behind the wheel of an Actros!

The service your truck deserves

Service Partner organizes the actions of the brand to the star, each focused on a product. The first action of this year was about braking. The first prize in this competition follows the same trajectory as the center of our attention today. Indeed, braking and handling are the two essential techniques that Scott Van Hooydonk, a seasoned instructor at Auto Training School Jesco, taught the four winners.

Give yourself the means

Before the two Brechts, David and Alexander could get into their Actros, they received half an hour of theory training. Using pictorial scenarios, they were reminded of the basic principles. One of these golden rules is to keep sufficient distance. “It is essential that you give yourself the means to react to unforeseen events. Stay focused on what's important. Most drivers are staring at the obstacle in front of them, so they should direct their attention to the exit. The eyes have a magnetic effect on our actions, ”explains Scott Van Hooydonk.

30 km / h is faster than you think

After the theory, it's time for practice. After a few "slippery" corners at low speed to warm up, it was time to pass the first brake test, at 30 km / h. It may not seem like much, but our drivers soon realized that they had underestimated it. The braking distance of tractors always surprises drivers. Even if their truck is equipped with all modern safety equipment, it will take longer to stop on a slippery surface than the drivers estimate. “This test shows the importance of anticipation. And this is even more true when the driver has to brake to 40 km / and perform an avoidance maneuver. In this situation, the trick is to perform the steering wheel movements just enough to avoid the obstacle, but without going into an uncontrolled skidding, ”says Scott Van Hooydonk, watching how the four drivers perform this balancing task. “You can clearly see that some drivers adapt their driving more quickly. Old habits die hard. It is therefore essential that they realize that knowing how to react and when can make all the difference in an emergency. Awareness is the key here, ”concludes Scott Van Hooydonk.