More Useful Stuff
1 Take a corner properly
“Racing drivers use the racing line to ‘straighten out’ corners, allowing us to brake at the latest opportunity and then accelerate as early as possible,” says pro-racer and driving instructor Deon Joubert (www.roadandtrack.co.za). “But all corners should be approached in the same way.” His formula: approach from as wide to the outside as possible, then start turning in gently to avoid losing control. Once the car has started its turn, apply as much steering as necessary to turn the car until it is aiming towards the apex of the turn, which is usually about two-thirds through the corner. It’s crucial that you are as close to the apex as possible at this point. After the apex, stop the inwards steering and let the car drift to the outside of the corner.
2 How to drive in wet weather
“In rainy weather, both grip levels and visibility are reduced, so slow down,” says Joubert. “If water is pooling on the road, look for the tracks of previous cars and follow them as the standing water will have been reduced.” If you are forced to drive through a puddle, hit it going straight ahead. “If you feel the steering go light and the front wheels start spinning, let go of the throttle, but don’t brake or turn the steering as you have no contact with the road. Your car’s momentum should carry it straight ahead, but if you have time, engage the clutch. When you do regain grip on the other side of the puddle and the car is hopefully still going straight, take a deep breath and put your foot back on the gas.”
3 How to handle an animal in the road
Unless the animal is really large, drastic evasive action is more likely to cause you more harm than hitting the animal will. Plus, you’re dealing with a wild animal, so there’s no way of knowing which way it will flee. If you have time, flash your headlights to try scare it. If a collision is inevitable, brake with your steering wheel straight. At the last possible second, steer away from the centre of the animal to avoid it crashing through the windscreen and onto your lap.
4 Brake safely to avoid an accident
“Almost all new cars have ABS (anti-lock braking system) and, when used correctly, it’s the most important safety system on your car,” says Joubert. “ABS allows you to brake as hard as possible and lets you steer the car without any risk of spinning.” His advice? Familiarise yourself with the ABS system (best done on an advanced driving course) by applying the brakes heavily and feeling the kickback through the pedal. This is not a sign that the brakes are defective. Stamp on the pedal as hard as you can to slow the car as much as possible, then at the same time, swerve to avoid the obstacle.
5 Drive on sand without getting stuck
Before hitting the dune, get out and drop your tyre pressure to 0.8 bar (or 12psi), which helps you to float on the sand. If you do start to sink, keep the momentum going: don’t stop. But, don’t lose control by driving too fast either. “It’s not a race, you need to be disciplined with your brakes and with your acceleration,” advises Pieter du Plessis, off-road driving expert from 4×4-teambuilding.com. “Too much and you lose control, too little and you‘ll find getting up inclines much harder.” If you feel you’re getting stuck, reverse and find another route.
6 Survive a rear-end collision
Forty percent of crashes involve being hit from behind. Yet no one is taught what to do when they see the impending crash coming. First, pull your seat belt tight. Release your foot from the brake and put the car in neutral. This will help distribute the force and may prevent you from being rear-ended twice, which can happen if you’re applying the brakes after being hit and the car behind is still moving forwards.