Once upon a time when I got my driving license, I got to learn to drive with a pretty good instructor. He taught me a lot of things and successfully enabled me to pass my exams on the first attempt. Especially if you’re driving in places where the infrastructure is faulty, to say the least, and some of your fellow traffic companions would be outsmarted by a chimp, there are some extra skills we all need to train on. These will probably not be taught or emphasized properly in an average driving school. Luckily, one of my recent birthday gifts was the chance to spend a day on a Dutch racing circuit, classes and rides included.
It started off with my being excited for the cool things I was about to experience – drifting on wet road, drifting on gravel, timed circuit laps… not to mention being driven in a modified race car by a professional rally driver :D When I left the racing circuit, I had all these experiences but also much more – I had learned some safety tips that can come in very handy, were it for a critical driving situation to occur. Long story short, would highly recommend such a crash course to any of you drivers out there – you’ll learn to act better/faster/smarter and, most importantly, keep yourself safe.
- Always look ahead – you don’t want to look close in front of your car but spot further where you would like your car to go. This behavior will not only enable you to steer smoother but also to anticipate dangers ahead.
- When faced with an imminent obstacle, keep pressing the break (when ABS enabled) until the car stops completely – one full and firm press.
- When in need of avoiding an obstacle right before impact (no time for brakes) you perform a maneuver pretty close to something called the “Scandinavian flick” :) Exciting, isn’t it?
- lift off the gas
- turn as hard as you can to the right (European-side driving)
- lightly hit the brakes with the left foot
- turn as hard as you can to the left (European-side driving)
- get off the brake
- get back on the gas
- It is ideal and much safer NOT to make too many maneuvers while driving – keep the steer in a fixed position as much as possible, according to the angle that you need.
- Same goes for the throttle – keep a steady position of your foot on the gas as much as possible, less of accelerate/break sequences. I know it’s less exciting but this is the best way to keep yourself safe.
In Western countries the number of road casualties has decreased across the past years to relatively decent levels. Still, how will you handle driving in a more… exotic traffic when on vacation? Driving schools are usually nice and structured – road signs, road etiquette, parking and basic maneuverability… but is that enough to keep you out of a dangerous situation? As mentioned earlier, a day on the rally track is not only loads of fun but what I would say is one of the most important exams a driver needs to pass. I will give it a second try for sure, practice my skills but also get better results with my timed laps :P Need to make it to top 3 this time! How about you? Where is your nearest rally school?