When you first get your drivers’ licence, the chances are you’re having a hard enough time trying to remember when to look in your side and rear-view-mirror to consider the best methods of oversteer correction. As time passes, however, you conquer your nerves; but you might also start to develop bad habits which could put you and other road users at risk. There is a lot to know when it comes to advanced and defensive driving and Volkswagen is happy to help.
Defensive driving advice from K53
In South Africa we follow the K53 driving system. It covers everything from road rules and road signs to pre-trip vehicle inspections. On the topic of defensive driving, K53 teaches us to: Look for hazards on the road, Identify the type of hazard, predict how the hazard may affect you, choose the safest reaction, execute the action, these steps make sense but they are merely a brief introduction to defensive driving.
Don’t be a road hazard
There are an infinite number of road hazards and driving conditions which need to be factored in when deciding how best to handle any given situation. The best solution is prevention; which starts with you and being a considerate road user.
Keep your eyes on the prize
As much as keeping your eyes on the road, you need to actually be alert. Without proper concentration, you are unlikely to notice potholes, roadworks, pedestrians and reckless drivers.
Ease off the accelerator
The faster you drive; the longer it takes to stop, the harder it is to avoid pedestrians or animals and the more likely you are to lose control of your car and skid, spin or roll your car in the event of any unexpected hazards.
Don’t fall behind
It is also dangerous to drive too slowly. Barring steep hills when you just can’t go faster, trucks carrying heavy loads and extreme weather conditions, driving slower than the recommended speed limit is inconsiderate and in certain situations it is dangerous.
Lights, camera, action!
It is very important to switch your lights on - not only at night but also when dark clouds occupy the sky, the sun touches the horizon and even before the sun has properly risen, you need to ensure that other road users are able to see you clearly at a distance and not only when it’s too late.
It’s all about technique
We may get distracted or impatient in day-to-day traffic on the road but if you use these techniques you are more likely to maintain grip on the road and prevent any loss of control.
Brake progressively – start gently and increase pressure
Accelerate progressively – start gently to prevent a wheel spins when pulling off
Steering – keep your hands on opposite sides of the steering wheel, allowing both hands to move freely and do equal amounts of work. Changing Gears – changing gears smoothly and when necessary doesn’t only impact your fuel consumption but it can also prevent wheel-spinning and loss of traction.
Applying the techniques above in day to day life requires an extra level of competence and concentration, not to mention practice. Remember that this so-called ‘common sense’ is not, in fact, common sense, we all think differently. Not everyone adheres to the rules of the road, not everyone has ABS braking or a sense of self-preservation. Drive with this in mind and most importantly don’t lose your temper.