Advanced driving doesn’t have to be dangerous, and there are many driving tips we can adopt from motorsports to improve our safety and performance on the road, so long as we understand when and how to implement them.
1. Taking turns
Cornering at speed is not recommended in most situations, but if you want to turn effectively without excessive deceleration, or you need to make a corner quickly for safety reasons, there is a trick to help you do so.
First and foremost, do not accelerate into a corner unless you are certain of the road conditions and your ability to control the car. As you approach, take your foot off the gas and only accelerate once you have come around the bend successfully. Holding down the accelerator while you corner can lead to oversteering, loss of control, and sudden boosts in speed.
2. Left foot braking
This technique generally belongs on the race track, however, it can save lives when used by an experienced driver if a car begins to spin out of control. With that being said, left foot braking is quite complex, so make sure you conduct initial practice in a controlled environment.
In short, left foot braking involves moving your left foot from the clutch to the brake pedal to allow for the dual working of the gas and brake. This gives racing drivers an edge, but can also help you exert more control over your vehicle in tight situations.
3. Holding the wheel
Experience can often breed complacency; those who have been on the roads for decades often drive with their hands at the bottom of the steering wheel, or even worse, placing only one hand on the wheel. This may be fine for sitting in a traffic jam, but when driving at any speed or in busy conditions, it is imperative that you hold the steering wheel properly.
Keep your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock and maintain a firm grip on the wheel. This will not only allow you to exert precise pressure on the steering wheel when turning or adjusting position, but also help prevent it from being wrenched from your grip if, for instance, you hit a patch of water or ice.
4. The racing line
The racing line is the path a professional driver follows to get from point A to B as fast as possible, but for the average person this technique can be extremely useful for improving safety in their everyday commute. Challenging weather conditions often make it difficult for pro drivers to follow racing lines in their entirety, in which case they focus on locating areas of the road that provide the most grip instead.
Now, we aren’t asking you to head for the opposing traffic lane to avoid losing traction, but rather to understand your own racing line and adjust it to the environmental conditions. Make sure you look out for wet spots that could cause your car to slide, all the while braking adequately to compensate for the prolonged stopping distance, and remember to equip your vehicle with the right tyres to minimise the risk of skidding or aquaplaning.
5. Expanding your horizons
Naturally, you should not stare at the car behind you, even if it is behaving erratically, because you won’t see trouble ahead. What is less obvious to drivers, however, is that giving too much attention to the car in front of you is just as dangerous, as it forces you to take all of your cues from that one person and rely on them to show you what is safe.
The best drivers rely on their own powers of observation and look as far ahead as they can. This could mean looking over the car in front you in the case of a significant height difference, but it usually involves looking through their windshield. This will allow you to keep the car in front of you in your peripheral vision while you monitor the road ahead for issues.
As you can see, driving experience from competitive racing can extend beyond the limits of the track. Some of these techniques may be easier to master than others, but the bottom line is, they will guide you how to be a better driver. Once you have a few under your belt, you will already feel more in control of your car no matter the weather or road!