Develop Your Driving Skills . . . Impress The SE And Drive Better
Your trainer should help you to develop all of the skills of car Control that you need to display a high standard of driving in your part 2 test. You do not need to develop the extremely high standard of car Control that Advanced Drivers do to pass part 2, but if you do decide to improve your technique, you’ll find it to be the icing on your driving cake.
These skills of car Control are developed and practiced on our advanced driving courses, and we’d like to introduce some of them to you here, so that you can gain some insight into advanced car Control methods.
All of the skills mentioned here rely on you developing vehicle sympathy. You need to be fully aware of your cars performance and Controls. You also need to anticipate changes in speed or direction early, because all advanced car Control techniques are carried out by advanced drivers at a far slower rate than a normal driver would.
Advanced Drivers are Trained to change gear slowly and smoothly, to change speed by varying the pressure on the gas pedal rather than having to constantly use the brakes, and to make their every action a part of a well planned, coordinated sequence of movements.
Many drivers, including some ADI’s, use the foot pedals in a similar fashion to an ‘on – off switch’. They tend to use them hurriedly and without considering the effects on both the car and their passengers.
None of the pedals are on – off switches. They each have an infinite variety of pressures that can be applied between fully up and fully down.
Consider the brake pedal . . . when you use the brake, say at a red light, to come to a complete halt . . . do you ever feel a ‘jolt’ as the car comes completely to a standstill? Most of us actually expect this ‘jolt’ when we are being carried as passengers with friends and family. Notice this next time you drive.
If you do, this is because you don’t use the technique of progressive braking. You should aim to break gently initially, gradually increasing the pressure accordingly, and then timing your gentle release of the pressure just as the car comes to a halt. It takes time to master, but your driving will be smooth and professional. Your passengers, including the SE, will notice the difference.
Normal drivers tend to rush towards situations, failing to recognise the need to change speed early enough, and end up rushing their braking at the last second. They fail to use acceleration sense to initiate changes in speed in a smoother fashion. This is commonly referred to as ‘clog and anchor’ technique by Police Driver Trainers.
You can also dramatically improve your general driving style by developing smooth coordination between the gas pedal and the clutch, when changing gear or moving off.
Again, normal drivers tend to use the pedals as fully on or fully off. They tend to change gears quickly and hurriedly, often because they entered the area of a hazard in the wrong gear and had to change at the last second.
Advanced drivers extend their gear changing. They train to do this by building in a definite pause as the gear stick reaches the neutral position. This is not double de clutching, it is simply slowing down the process, coordinating the pedals with the gear change, to display a smooth action that is truly remarkable to witness. If you had the chance to see a Police Advanced Driver in a 3.0 litre turbo charged car change down from 5th to 3rd, at very high speed with no perceptible ‘feeling’ through the vehicle, you’d have a sense of what I mean. The only change is the sound of the engine. If you were completely deaf, you’d probably never know that the gear change had taken place.
Try to purposefully eradicate any ‘jerkiness’ from your gear changes by s-l-o-w-i-n-g them down. Anticipate the change early, and deal with it in an unhurried manner.
As a rule of thumb for use of the clutch, you can put the pedal down fairly quickly, coordinated with your use of the gas . . . but lift the clutch pedal s-l-o-w-l-y. If you practice this, you’ll dramatically improve your smoothness and the overall feel of your driving will be much more professional.
The key to excellent use of the foot Controls is to . . . s-l-o-w- – d-o-w-n and coordinate.
Use the steering wheel with the pull – push method. Note the wording here . . . pull then push. Not the other way around, yet so many trainees get this wrong.
You can practice your steering skills by practicing a simple ‘figure of eight’ in a suitable location. Using this training technique, you are forced to turn to the left, then to the right, or vice versa.
Try to develop your steering Control into a smooth action, so that it becomes an unconscious part of your driving technique.
When you hold the wheel, you may wish to do so with your thumbs on the outside of the wheel rim, or on top of it, rather than wrapped around the wheel and laying on the inside of it. This is a purely personal thing, but if your car is ever involved in a collision whereby you are it in either side, you will be very grateful indeed that you decided to use this technique.
What happens in side on collisions (commonly referred to as ‘T’ boned) is that the tyres try to keep a grip of the road, resulting in the front wheels turning sideways to full lock very rapidly indeed. This movement is transmitted at very high speed through to the steering wheel, which spins unControlled. If your thumbs are on the inside of the rim, they will go with it, resulting in very serious injury. The speed that this happens is scary, and you will have no time to move your hands.
The other hand Control of note is the hand brake.
Again, this Control is often used incorrectly, and is seen as an on-off switch. It is not.
The first thing to realise is that the ratchet should always be disengaged by using the button, whenever the hand brake is applied or released. Aim to never hear the ratchet ‘clicking’.
The other consideration is that the hand brake should only ever be applied when the car is at a complete standstill. Many drivers develop the bad habit of using the hand brake just before the car stops. The hand brake actually completes the braking process and stops the car. This is to be avoided at all costs.
One of the reasons that this habit develops is because drivers take their left hand off the steering wheel too early, and reach for the hand brake before the car stops. Try not to do this. Try to consciously keep your left hand on the wheel until the car is actually at a standstill. This will help you to coordinate your use of the hand brake with the other Controls of the car.
When carrying out the up hill start, you don’t have to use the hand brake as an on-off switch. Release it s-l-o-w-l-y, coordinated with the foot Controls, to ensure that you don’t roll back and ensure that you move off smoothly.
You need to be aware that Advanced Driving does not make use of the MS-PSL routine. Instead the i-psga routine is used. This is far more flexible than MS-PSL, but is totally unsuitable for learner drivers. You should therefore use all of the skills of Advanced Driving to develop your observation and anticipation skills, but always ensure that you deal with hazards using MS-PSL routine, not i-psga. The SE will be looking for good use of MS-PSL . . . after all, that’s what you’ll be teaching