Driving in extreme condition

APPREHENDING EXTREME ROAD CONDITIONS

Simple rules every driver should follow:

1. INTRODUCTION

This short instruction manual has been developed to assist drivers (novice, intermediate, and professional) to refresh their knowledge in dealing with extreme situations often happening on the road. The most important part of this short course is the ability to practice an obtained recommendation being developed by highly trained professional drivers. Interactive information, presented below, can be accessed by simply clicking on the underlined topic description. By clicking “Back” link, it will take you back to that topic.

2. PROPER SITTING POSITION

Safety of a driver, regardless of his/her experience in driving, starts and ends with a proper sitting position in a car. It will be a mistake to treat this position as “relaxing” or a time break between different movements, such as ramping, passing, accelerating, unexpected breaking, etc., all while behind the steering wheel. Many careless drivers whose attitude towards driving is less than required, are getting into accidents, which are mostly related to how they sit in a car. All these people are trying to find an explanation to those accidents pointing to some other more important problems than simply safety sitting. In fact, it has been proven by a special study that safety sitting reduces reaction time by tens of a second so needed in extreme situations.

Sitting position, as you understand, is not the way to drive a car, however, rapid driver’s reaction to different road situations will be extremely difficult without proper sitting position. Obviously, rapid driver’s reactions vary depending on the road condition and situation. Certain extreme driver’s action is a result of certain critical situation, whereby every driver has to be ready for in order to get decently out of that critical situation.

Let’s analyze some of those situations, specifically: right and left car drifting

  • Right drifting: sharp turn of the steering wheel, gentle straightening.
  • Left drifting: the same, only to the other side.
1. Keep both of your hands on the top portion of the steering wheel. Push yourself against the back of your seat as much as you can. Remove everything from you dashboard, that might take your attention off the road. 2. Reduce speaker volume or just turn your radio off. Do not engage in any conversation with a passenger(s).
  • 3. Overturn to the right: power car control to the right, balancing, straightening up.
  • 4. Overturn to the left: same to the other side.
  • 5. Critical drifting: rapid car control (full range) with two hands by changing hands position on one side of the steering wheel
  • 6. Rhythmic drifting:a set of rapid impulses of a car control (steering wheel) in one or the other direction.
  • 7. Rapid breaking (deceleration): step-by-step breaking with manual break, consecutive engaging lower gear; car stability correction with a steering wheel during each break release.
  • 8. Unexpected maneuver to avoid roadblock: power car control and car straightening with alternative short-time break-drifting. Every skid must be overcome with preventive car control.
  • 9. Car rotation: a set of consecutive action consisting of steering wheel rotation, rapid break-drifting, reverse drive, straightening, acceleration, break-drifting,

Those 9 typical problems are merely the most common. In reality, there are many more of them to be taken care of. The most important is to “feel the car”, which is obtained by proper driver’s sitting position and his/her ‘contact’ with the car. 

The most dramatic those sensations are during the loss of car control or car stability during its drifting, all wheel blocking, wheels spinning, rotating, and overturning. ‘Physical contact with a car’ provides signals to a driver to stabilize the car, and allows correcting driver’s action while critical situation is progressing.

3. HANDS POSITION

Upon engaging in any possible road situation the driver of the vehicle should make appropriate preparation. It starts with placing driver’s hands on the steering wheel for any possible maneuvering of the car. It is important to place hands symmetrically on the steering wheel as follows: 10a.m. – 2p.m. or 9a.m. – 3p.m. When required, driver’s hands are shifted to one side of the steering wheel. Their position when turning left is 8a.m. – 12p.m. and 12p.m – 4p.m. when turning right. These positions make adequate preparation for any rapid driver’s action during critical conditions, such as driving on a ramp, avoiding roadblocks, stabilizing car and a car control in general. Placing hands on one side of the steering wheel helps preventing self-winding of a car, as well as reducing centrifugal force, shifting driver to the other side of the car with respect to car position on the ramp.

Side-wheel handling also allows you to make the following wheels control of your vehicle:

  • a. Holding car steady on the ramp curve by continuous pulling the steering wheel down. Correction of the ramp trajectory is achieved by enforcing or lessening this pulling force.
  • b. Maintaining proper radius of a vehicle on the ramp is achieved by the hand located on the top of the steeing wheel (position 12p.m.). The other hand (located at 4p.m. or at 8a.m.) releases the steering wheel and insures it on the side-wheel position. Additional force is added to the other hand when required.
  • c. At the end of the ramp you vehicle should accelerate, which in turn, straightens the vehicle. Both hands on the steeing wheel at that moment will create breaking force by adjusting an actual turning curve. Driver’s hands shouldn’t be removed from the steeing wheel, i.e. car drift could take place.
  • d. When a rear-end-drift happens, that is when the rear end of a car starts shifting sideways, especially with a rear-wheel-drive, then in order to return the car back to its strait position, rapid turning of the front wheels by 900 to 1800 without changing hands position should take place. If the car drift is significant, then the car should be controlled with the left and the right hand alternatively by moving hands on the steering wheel.
  • e. Crossing hands on the bottom part of the steering wheel is not recommended.
  • f. Holding steering wheel at the bottom is also undesirable. That position is not suitable for any critical situation.
Hands position should be at 4(8)a.m. – 12p.m. during ramping or turning. It will resist car’s self-straightening and help to anticipate any critical situation, such as: drifting, rotation, turnover, run-over, etc.

4. HANDS POSITION ON THE STEERING WHEEL PRIOR TO CRITICAL SITUATION (PREVENTIVE ACTION)

Time lapse of a critical situation demands immediate action by reducing driver’s reaction time. If a driver is not ready for extreme action or if he/she needs special preparation for it, for instance: moving hands into the most appropriate position, then due to insufficient time for the action, it becomes an emergency rather than critical or extreme condition. In practice, repositioning of the driver’s hands is done by sliding them along steering wheel when the other hand is immobilized.

Turn right before a sharp turn or a complicated maneuver with a big radius the driver is making several preventive movements:

Shift one hand down over the steering wheel to avoid hand-over-hand during vehicle turn, as well as to make sure that both hands will hold the steering wheel in the position that is ready for extreme situation.

 

Prior to a sharp curve: the driver makes preparations by sliding one of his hands over the side of a steering wheel while the other hand is in a steady contact with steering wheel.

Right before of a sharp curve: driver makes several preventive moves by shifting his hands over the steering wheel that is inner to the curve and in 12p.m.-4p.m. position when the driver turns right and 8a.m.-12p.m when he turns left.

Right before driving in reverse: the driver slides his left hand over the steering wheel to the 12p.m. position (see Fig 1 below) and increasing his view angle by turning his body all the way to the right.

Before making a U-turn while driving forward: with blocking rear wheels by a break pedal and by engaging had break at the same time while his left hand is in 12p.m. position (see Fig. 2 on the picture below).

Before speedy U-turn by reverse: this is a police driving trick whereby the driver is shifting his left (right) hand into the bottom of the steering wheel (see fig.3 on the picture below). His is using a strong grip, with his elbow pointing up or he is using a non-standard grip (position 6 below) to be ready for a speedy 360 deg rotation of the steering wheel without hand-over-hand movement.

During some critical situation when skid or vehicle rotation takes place, the very first turn is better to do with the left hand, while the right hand will shift the gear down. Driving a car with one hand will help you making safe maneuvers while driving in reverse due to better observation when your shoulders are turned back.

The most important is to learn how to hold the steering wheel on its bottom part without losing a touch with the wheel.

5. Speedy driving with one hand only (TBC)

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