Monday, June 8, 2015

Understanding the limits of your vehicle.

Depending on where you are in the world, driving lessons and exams range from stupidly simple and easy (America) to thorough and expensive (Sweden). But driving lessons can't teach you how your specific car behaves and reacts to any given situation, and that's something most people don't seem to want to learn. It's why we have so many crashes in the winter months. Roads aren't inherently less safe when they're covered in snow and ice - it's the drivers. People won't use winter tyres and will insist on driving like they do in the middle of the summer. Drive in a manner fitting the conditions and any time of year and weather can be just as safe as any other.
But it goes further than that. I think a great many people are afraid of their cars, because they believe the movies, or the police, or their friend Ted down at the local watering hole. Contrary to many depictions in pop culture, cars don't flip over and explode when taken around a corner at anything above walking pace, and speed is not inherently dangerous (remember - hard facts show that speed is the contributing factor in less than 5% of accidents, irrespective of what the police say).
What is inherently dangerous is drivers who don't know their vehicles, and thus don't understand the performance characteristics and limits. It's dangerous for them, and it's dangerous for the rest of us. I'll give you an example.
There's a huge motorway intersection near where I live, where three lanes peel off the right side of the southbound motorway, and loop down and underneath in a huge, banked, perfectly-tuned arc to join the eastbound motorway. The road has perfect drainage, great line of sight and is regularly maintained so the surface grip is tip top. In any vehicle, this turn is achievable at 70mph in any of the lanes. In a car, or a grippy, 'sporty' SUV like a Range Rover Evoque, it's easily do-able at 80mph. In a sporty car with good tyres and suspension (or any motorbike), it's a breeze at 90mph. Yet in reality it's a swarm of brake lights and 45mph timidness. Ugh.
I've been whipping around that corner at well over 70mph for over 10 years in every vehicle I can and I've yet to explode in flames.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, it only takes 1 car to slow down everybody else. :|