We have already said that we won't use the racing driver's line through a bend but we can use some of his techniques. We adopt the line shown which gives us maximum visibility while keeping us safely away from oncoming traffic. What we can learn from the racing driver is his smooth technique.

The safest way through any bend is also the smoothest. The racing driver would never apply the brakes in a bend because it makes the car unstable. Before you reach a bend, assess, from the information given by signs and markings, a safe and comfortable speed for you - usually less than the maximum speed sign -  in a straight line before reaching the bend smoothly brake the car down to that speed, change down 1 or more gears if necessary, drive smoothly through the bend at a steady speed and then smoothly apply the accelerator to bring you back up to speed, changing up again as necessary. How often do we follow a car which twitches into a bend, brakes in the middle of it, ( frightening the driver who always blames the car ), the wheel is sawn back and forth and then it lurches on it's way again? Be smooth.     

Most bends, on all types of roads, will have a variety of warnings starting with an early sign indicating the type of bend, its direction and whether it is a single or multiple bend, then a maximum speed sign board and, finally, on the bend itself, black and white or coloured chevrons marking the exact line of the bend. Frequently on country roads the lines of hedges or lamp posts or telegraph poles will give an even earlier indicator of the direction of the bend and its curvature. 

The painted road markings are also a good indicator of the severity of a bend. For example well before a bend there will usually be arrows turning into the lane concerned directing overtakers back into lane. This may be followed by the word bend, by additional white lines near the outer edges of the bend on both sides of the road and by the gaps in the centre line shortening until the white line is solid. 

  • Don't cut corners
  • Do take the safest line
  • Be in the right gear at the right speed
  • Drive smoothly through

Article © Graham Benge 2007

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