Thursday, October 15, 2009
Driving mantra Part 7 - The safety bubble.
When you're travelling at 120km/h on the motorway, and everyone else is doing the same speed, it all looks relatively calm. Your speed relative to everyone else is within 5 to 10km/h of them. Everything seems relatively peaceful. In reality you're still doing 120km/h and that will be brought home in a big way when something goes wrong. When traffic is flowing smoothly, there's not a lot of energy being transferred because there's not much change of speed or direction. But when you start to brake or swerve, things start to go downhill very quickly indeed. Complex forces come into play that will easily overwhelm all but the most experienced driver in a fraction of a second. So you need to consider a safety bubble around your car. A virtual airspace where you don't want anyone else to be. If someone else gets into your safety bubble, adjust your speed or road position to resolve the situation. The safety bubble gives you a known area around your vehicle within which you can maneuver. It absorbs some of the variations in speed brought on by variable traffic, and gives you an "out" on at least one side for if things in front go pear-shaped. Think of it like an undercover operative thinks when they enter unfamiliar territory. Be suspicious of the vehicles around you and know the exit routes in case you need them.