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DRIVING IS AN ACQUIRED SKILL

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DRIVING IS AN ACQUIRED SKILL |

We tend to assume that all those who drive a vehicle on public roads have taken driving lessons and passed the necessary driving test. For those who have undergone formal driver training, the belief that this is all the training they will ever require is a myth. As is the case with any acquired skill, experience is needed to hone our driving skill.

We all drive for various reasons. Some motorists drive for the sheer pleasure of it, while others, like delivery vehicle operators, may drive out of necessity. Whatever the reason for leaving the safety of our homes to venture onto the roads, ultimately it determines how we drive. As hair raising as it may sound, we are always at the mercy of other drivers commuting on the same highways and byways.

More often than not, you will find that car accidents happen as a result of negligence by one of the parties involved. Simply put, you can go about your business driving responsibly, and then suddenly another motorist will sideswipe you and your family off the road while recording themselves on Tiktok. While most of these experiences are unavoidable, there is a solution to mitigate the probability of this happening to you and your family.

Cue the AMG Driving Academy. Noted as one of the most professional institutions of its kind in the country, the AMG Driving Academy offers a range of facilities at Zwartkops Racetrack designed to elevate your vehicle control and reaction times. “We’re aware that first-class training requires first-class facilities,” says Natalie Weston, Instructor at the AMG Driving Academy. The numerous corners on the fast-paced racetrack provide a number of challenges that help you familiarise yourself with handling a car at speed and under heavy braking, while dealing with G-forces, which all require quick thinking and precise actions when under pressure. There is also a skid pan that simulates wet driving conditions. The AMG Driving Academy is geared to teach people how to think and react optimally to any unexpected situation that may arise while driving.

One point we need to emphasize is that the academy is accessible to both genders. Case in point, Driven had the honour of engaging Natalie Weston, a seasoned driver who joined the AMG Driving Academy 10-years ago. With a commendable skillset, both on- and off-road, Natalie is one of the instructors welcoming you to the academy. Given South Africa’s high rate of single parent families, women tend to carry the brunt of ferrying their most precious cargo – their children, which highlights the necessity for more women to partake in advanced driving courses, and is a passion of Natalie’s. With circumstances forcing many women to handle school run duties and family errands, they predominantly travel with their children as passengers. As a result of this, there is no better incentive for all families to invest in the best driving skillset, particularly for those driving our most precious cargo.

Team Driven highly recommends that you consider the AMG Driving Academy to equip yourself with the necessary driving skills to protect yourself and others from possible accidents when out and about on the road.

Q&A with Natalie Weston

Q: What does your job entail at AMG Driving Academy? 

A: I’m an Advanced Driving Instructor for the AMG Driving Academy. My job is to pass on the skills and knowledge that I’ve acquired throughout my driving and instructing career to make people safer and more capable drivers on our roads.

Q: Our deepest condolences on the passing of your father, Stan Weston. We understand that he was your greatest inspiration in shaping your career path. What have you learnt from him regarding your industry?

A: Thank you so much. My dad was an absolute legend in motorsport. He was pivotal in growing the  South African motorsport industry with Stannic and provided opportunities to many drivers. I grew up following my dad around on rallys, going to Kyalami, and working in the Stannic boma on race days. From a young age, I got to experience what motorsport was all about, and I was fortunate enough to attend Formula 1 Grand Prix races at Kyalami back in the early 90’s when Senna was at the height of his career.

My dad always empowered me to do what I love most, and to embrace what I’m most passionate about. For many years my dad also served as an instructor at the AMG Driving Academy, where he moulded our instructors, most of whom are still instructing today.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working in your industry?

A: I get to meet the most amazing customers, with different personalities, different cultures, and different capabilities. Everyday is  different, so there is no monotony in what I do. Each day I get to instruct a new group, new customers with different needs. That’s what I find truly special. I get to meet these people and share what I’m most passionate about and share what I love. I get to teach and show them a different and safer way of dealing with situations on the road and being able to handle a car safely. I get to build their confidence and make them safer and more capable drivers. That is truly rewarding. 

I also get to work with Mercedes-AMG, the best brand and a brand I’m really passionate about. #bestornothing

Q: What services are offered by the AMG Driving Academy?

A: We have a selection of program options that we offer, and we can also tailor programs according to the specific needs of our clients.  For more detailed information, please visit our website: https://amg.mercedes-benz.co.za/driving-courses

Q: How has the National State of Disaster affected your work?

A: We have been exceptionally lucky to be able to keep our doors open by following specific health protocols. It has definitely slowed us down somewhat, however, although some customers postponed their programs, at least we did not lose their business.

Q: What advice do you have for fellow women who haven’t yet taken advanced driving lessons? How would these lessons be beneficial to them?

A: The most significant confidence builder for any woman who aspires to get involved in the industry, is to enhance their driving skills. That’s the first step, and that’s what I pride myself in doing each day, which is to help women overcome their fears and societal prejudices. 

Q: To all the women inspired by you, and who may be eager to join this male dominated industry, what tips do you have for them?

A: Working and doing what I love in a male dominated industry is somewhat challenging at times, but I see it as a challenge to overcome and prove what could possibly be assumed as impossible – to change this mindset by proving just how well a women can drive, and how well a car responds to a woman’s smooth touch. 

Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams. Women have a certain natural finesse behind the wheel, and efficient driving requires smoothness and finesse.

Don’t allow anyone to tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams. Women have a certain natural finesse behind the wheel, and efficient driving requires smoothness and finesse.

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © MERCEDES-BENZ AMG ADA

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