The Advanced Driver certificate is still some way off, but I’m certainly getting closer to earning it. This weekend I went on the first assessed drive, scoring As and Bs on 16 of the 24 points – my driving performance and control of the vehicle are excellent, apparently. I scored Cs on a few points around one specific thing: approaching hazards (mainly roundabouts) too quickly, so that’s what needs working on. Commentary driving, the Highway Code and overtaking I haven’t covered yet.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying out the stuff I was taught so far, eventually managing to get the right balance between using 3rd gear for rapid progress and using other gears to maximise fuel economy (trust me, it really does). What I’ve also found, making more use of 3rd and 4th gears, is that I’m not having to use my brakes so much – just a small reduction in speed can actually enable us to negotiate traffic lights, bends, junctions and corners more efficiently. This has knocked about ten minutes off my commute time.
Limit Points and Cornering
Last time we covered the stuff in chapter 10 of Roadcraft, which deals with cornering. Applying the IPSA system of car control to this is important, because the common tendency is to enter bends, corners and junctions a little too fast, and then we lose control and stability as a result – this is especially risky because there might be something around the corner that we can’t see. Roadcraft has a few pages on the physics and mechanics of this, and it claims that almost 50% of fatal collisions for drivers under 30 happen because they lose control on a bend or curve.
With advanced driving there are several techniques for dealing with bends in the safest and most efficient way. First one is to get in the habit of using ‘limit points’ – a limit point marks ‘the distance you can see to be clear on your side of the road’, and ‘the furthest point to which you have an uninterrupted view of the road surface’ (quotes from Roadcraft). If we’re able to stop our vehicle between our current position and the limit point, we’re travelling at a safe speed – obviously taking into account the road surface, other vehicles behind, indications of potential hazards around the corner, etc. By using limit points, we should find we’re always travelling at roughly the right speed to negotiate a bend.
A second technique is to apply the IPSA system – ensure we’re travelling at the right speed and in the right gear before entering the bend, then use the accelerator to maintain a constant speed while going around. This requires some practice, because most of us do the opposite in entering too quickly and using the brakes while cornering.
The ‘position’ component of the system might be relevant, because sometimes the safest and most efficient way to negotiate a winding road or roundabout is to ‘straight line’ it.