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Adapting to Different Road Surfaces

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 20 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Adapting To Different Road Surfaces

Different road surfaces generally mean that you have to alter your driving style to be able to drive safely, as they can affect the handling and control of your vehicle. For example, driving on roads that are wet or oily require you to drive more carefully to stay safe.

Wet or Oily Road Surfaces

It is easy to skid or go off the road when driving on wet or oily road surfaces, as there is reduced grip. Skidding and sliding usually happens when you are travelling too fast and lose control of your vehicle. It can also happen on these types of road conditions if you try to brake suddenly, as the reduced grip makes this dangerous.

Because of this, you should take care when driving on these surfaces to avoid the chances of an accident. This is particularly important when taking corners, as there is an even bigger chance of your vehicle leaving the road.

Braking in these conditions is different from normal. You should avoid applying too much pressure to the brakes; gentle braking well ahead of when you definitely need to slow down will enable you to slow down enough to keep control of your vehicle when going around corners.

Sandy Roads

If you have to drive over road surfaces that have sand on them, you are likely to lose traction, which can affect the overall handling of your vehicle, and your ability to control it. These will often happen if you accidentally run onto the very edge of the road surface (especially on country roads). You can deal with this by letting your tyres down a bit so that there is more tyre in contact with the road, but be careful when doing this, as you still need to be in line with the air pressure guidelines to avoid getting into trouble with the law. Remember to re-adjust the tyre pressure after you have left a sandy road, or you will run into further problems.

Poorly Maintained Roads

These are common in rural areas, as it may not be possible or practical for roads to be repaired or resurfaced regularly. Be prepared for uneven road surfaces and potholes in the road. There may also be fallen branches and other vegetation on the road that you need to keep an eye out for. You should drive carefully and at a sensible speed so that you can be aware of hazards related to the road surface before they could contribute to an accident, and react to them safely (for example, steering around potholes in the road). For more advice on driving in rural areas, see our article 'Driving on Country Roads'.

Adapting your driving skills to adjust to driving on different types of road surfaces is an important skill to have with regards to have maximum control of your vehicle. If you drive as you would normally do on other road surfaces, you can easily run into trouble. Skidding, sliding and leaving the road are common occurrences when drivers fail to adjust to the changed conditions.

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