This post by @TheoryOfDriving is the first of what I hope will be a series of guest columns on the website. 

Advanced Driving isn’t just for the police, the fact is some aspects of ‘Advanced Driving’ should be a part of every driver on the roads repertoire today. The sad fact is though, as we all know, it isn’t.

I’m an ex-military instructor and my years of driver training comes from being tutored by both military and police instructors. Advanced Driving, to me at least, is the ability to make progress on urban or rural roads, in heavy or light traffic, safely and effectively. This may involve treating red traffic lights as a give way or, on national speed limit roads, when safe to do so, travelling at speed.

Now, I don’t want all of you reading this to go out and start jumping the red lights outside your local Spar or doing the A494 Bala Road in Wales at 140mph whilst giving commentary pretending your in a starring role in Spooks. What I would like for everyone to take away from this article is you can make progress on any road and enjoy it without being intimidating to other drivers or reckless.

There are many aspects I’d like to cover but Keith has threatened me with severe rope burns if I eat too much of his server space up, so in this article I’m going to cover (briefly) cornering – or rather, how to do it properly.

On the approach to any corner you need to be aware, even if you have driven that corner a thousand times before. The key thing to cornering is your ‘limit point’. This is the point at which your vision ends on the corner – the point at which you can not see any further around it.

Now the limit point will constantly changed as you travel but you can adjust your position slightly to increase your vision, widen the limit point and allow you to travel faster. This is not the ‘racing line’ technique, however, if done correctly it can be used to allow you to use the whole road and racing lines if it’s safe to do so.

Safety note: you need to match your speed to the limit point, if you can not come to a complete stop before the point at which your view of the road ends, you’re travelling too fast.

My three golden rules when it comes to cornering are:

  • Safety
  • View
  • Stability

Your position on the road should be one of the least amount of danger, taking into account junctions on both nearside (left side of car) and offside (right side), pedestrians, kerbs and roadside furniture.

To get the best possible view depends on your position and your position will depend on what you can see on the approach to a bend. Your positioning will be completely different on a right hand bend to that of a left hand bend (unless you’re trying to make ground in heavy traffic, but that’s a whole other post).

So let’s start with a right hand bend and for this I’m going to use illustrations from the Police Drivers Handbook – Roadcraft.

As you can see from the image as the car is approaching the right hand bend it’s in a ‘normal’ position, one which 99% of drivers would adopt and are using as you read this. There is a problem with this position though, because it can’t see the oncoming vehicle, which in turn (should) mean the car has to slow down because it can’t see the whole picture.

Look at the image again and see the car on the right hand side approaching the right hand bend. The car adopts a position towards the nearside, putting the left side of the car as safely as possible towards the left side of the road. This increases the angle of the road that the driver can now see and he can now see the on-coming car and can take that information and put it into their own system of car control (again another epic post). Also referring back to the ‘racing line’ mentioned earlier, by increasing your vision and limit point you can decide whether or not the racing line is possible.

Left hand bends in the image above again shows the car on the left at a disadvantage due to its poor road position. The driver can’t see the oncoming vehicle and as such should reduce its speed. Compare this to the car on the right hand side of the image and the driver can now see the on-coming vehicle.

I prefer to have two wheels over the line on this, one favouring towards the offside of the road, providing it’s safe to do so. This increases the angle the driver can see and (if the conditions allow it) let’s you take the racing line corner.

Point to note on a left hand bend and positioning yourself on the offside, you can see any oncoming vehicles or dangers. As long as your speed is correct for the conditions then you can retake your position on your side of the road in plenty of time without raising any alarm in on-coming traffic or instability to your car.

Points to note when using these techniques:

  • They do not need to be taken at speed
  • Be mindful that your position maybe misleading to other road users, if so then adjust it accordingly
  • Whether you would gain any advantage at a lower speed, for example, if you have seen a warning triangle for an up-coming series of bends

Food for thought

My advanced driving instructor used to make us complete his ‘braking test’ to ensure our system of car control was at the very best it could be. The route varied from test to test, but would typically last an hour. The test was simply this, to drive as progressively as possible which included treating red traffic lights as a give way.

The instructor would sit directly behind the driver so he couldn’t see the pedals, now anyone travelling in a car can tell when the car is slowing down, however, if the instructor knew when you were using the brakes rather than letting the car decelerate naturally through a combination of the engine and gearbox retardation you would fail and have to do the test again. You could use the brakes as you would normally but if the instructor or any other passenger could feel the brakes being applied to the car in such a way that it wasn’t 100% smooth then that simply wasn’t good enough for an ‘Advanced Driver’.

If you liked reading this then please help promote it and comment below, I would really like to offer more advice from my years of training and offer some more tales of old, including why one of my instructors used to put a drawing pin on the top of the gear stick.

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE

Remember it takes a lot of training to become an Advanced Driver. You should always comply with the rules, regulations and laws of the road. Please drive safely and respectfully.

If you too are interested in offering a motoring or racing-based guest post for the website, then drop me an email to keithwrjones@gmail.com with an outline of what you intend to submit and we’ll take it from there.

Jaguar XKR-S image courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

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