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Handling Your Vehicle

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 20 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Handling Your Vehicle Controlling Your

Being able to handle your vehicle safely is an important part of being a safe driver. Poor handling and control skills can cause problems for other road users, as well as compromising your own safety, and that of any passengers that may be travelling in the vehicle with you. The most basic elements of controlling your vehicle involve controlling the speed and direction of your vehicle.

Steering

This is probably the most important element of handling and controlling your vehicle, and the amount of pressure that you apply to the steering wheel is key to this. Your hands should be on opposite sides of the steering wheel so that you have a firm control of it. However, try not to grip the steering wheel too firmly, as this can make steering more difficult - ideally, you should have a fairly loose grip, but still be able to maintain control.

Accelerating

Being able to increase your speed without posing a danger to yourself or other drivers is also highly important. See our article on 'Using Speed Safely' for more advice on this.

Braking

Being able to brake safely is also essential to be able to bring your vehicle to a stop in a safe manner. See our articles on 'Braking Safely' and 'Using Emergency Stops' for more advice on this.

Reversing

Many accidents occur when a driver reverses without looking behind them properly to make sure the coast is clear. As well as looking in your mirrors, you also need to look over your shoulder (both ways) to check your blind spot, as your mirrors will not be able to show you all potential hazards behind you. See our articles on 'Reversing Safely' and 'Turning Around Safely' for more advice on this.

Taking corners

Your cornering skills are vital for keeping control of your vehicle when going around bends, especially sharp or blind bends. You should reduce your speed when approaching bends (especially blind bends), as it is easy to lose control of your vehicle if you take them too fast.

Weather

Different weather conditions can affect handling your vehicle, as they can affect the grip that your tyres have. Check your tyres regularly to keep an eye on the tyre tread. If it is less than 3 mm, you can run into handling problems on wet or icy roads, as your grip will be severely compromised. Likewise, make sure that there are no cracks or bulges on the tyres.

Road conditions

Road conditions can also have an effect on handling your vehicle.

Long vehicles

If you are driving a long vehicle, you need to take care when turning, as the trailer will often swing out. To prevent it from obstructing other vehicles, you need to make sure that there is enough space for you to turn safely before you commit yourself.

Handling a New Vehicle

The more you drive a vehicle, the easier it becomes to handle it. Because of this, you need to take extra care for a few months after switching to a new vehicle, as it can take a while to get fully used to it.

Other things to consider include being able to reach the controls (such as the brake, accelerator, gear lever, handbrake and steering wheel) easily. In most cases, this makes the vehicle easier to control, particularly if you need to react quickly to avoid an accident.

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