How To Drive Through A Bend Correctly

Published: 16th July 2008
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Cornering, or taking a bend, isn't always as easy as first thought. Some bends are sharper than they first appear. Incorrectly assessing the sharpness of a bend can have severe consequences. This is especially the case on rural roads which continue to dominate the road traffic statistics. In fact most single vehicle accidents are a result of drivers being caught out whilst cornering.

The most essential rule to follow when it comes to taking a bend is this - you must be able to stop, on your side of the road, in the distance you can see to be clear.

In order to take a bend safely the first thing to be aware of is the surrounding environment. Some bends will have road signs and markings designed indicating the direction of the bend. However not all sharp bends have road signs or markings. You can also use the line of trees, hedges, buildings or street lights to assess how sharp a bend is. Often skid marks on the road will indicate that a previous driver assessed the bend incorrectly and had to brake hard to keep under control.

As you approach the bend it is good practice to check your mirrors. If the bend is right-handed then move nearer to the kerb as this will improve your view ahead. If you need to slow down and change down a gear then do so before you reach the bend. Changing gears whilst in the bend will mean you removing a hand from the steering wheel which can be dangerous. As you enter the bend steer gently and smoothly. As the bend opens out progressively apply more power and build up to the appropriate speed.

An more advanced method of safely taking a bend, one driving schools may teach, is the limit point analysis method. The limit point is the furthest point of the bend ahead which you can see i.e. the point at which the left and right hand sides of the road meet. To put this method into practice first make sure that you can stop before you reach the limit point. The ask yourself is the limit point getting further away? If it is and you can see further ahead then your speed is fine. If it is getting closer you should continue to reduce your speed until the limit point begins to move with you and your view opens up again.

Remember on a wet, greasy or otherwise slippery road the grip your car tyres have will be greatly reduced. If you fail to take this into account when taking a bend and fail to reduce your speed then your tyres are likely to lose grip putting you in danger of skidding of the road or even into a oncoming vehicle. If you are ever forced to perform an emergency stop whilst taking a bend you should be aware that your car will take longer to stop than when traveling in a straight line. There is also a danger, especially if you brake too hard that you will skid.

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