There’s no magic formula to safe driving, but there are plenty of tricks to help you see into the future to make your journey safer.
While we may not be able to see around corners, there are usually plenty of tell-tales to help you predict confidently which way the road goes and what you can expect to find around that corner.
The signs are all there
The first and most important indicator of what sort of corner you’re approaching is the signage. So often ignored by drivers, road signs are there to help and follow a pattern that helps you interpret what is coming up. If there’s a sign to say a sharp bend is ahead, it means the corner tightens more than you might expect. A sharp bends sign also tells you which way the corner goes. If the first bend on the sign is to the left, the corner will be a left, and vice versa for right-hand bends. This can be added to with signs on the road and chevrons to tell you which direction the corner twists. The simple rule is: the more signs, the worse the bend.
This is the obvious stuff that many drivers simply don’t see through lack of attention or over-familiarity with the road. Try to open out your vision from what is immediately in front of the car and take in the whole scene to give yourself as much opportunity to adjust your speed and road position as possible.
There are also other simple tricks to make driving safer as you come up to a corner. On many rural roads, telegraph poles will follow the line of the road. By looking further ahead at where the poles go, it gives you a good warning of what the road is likely to do. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s a good guide. As always, if you’re not sure, slow down to give yourself more time to assess the situation. Another good indicator of which way the road goes, are hedgerows and walls. Look for the lines they follow and you can be pretty certain they will trace the route of the road ahead.
Know your limit
As well as this, you can use the ‘limit point’ to tell if the corner is tightening up or opening out. The limit point is the furthest point on the road in your vision where the two sides of the road meet. If this point gets closer as you drive along, it means the corner is getting tighter. As the road opens out, the limit point will recede further away from you, so you know you can accelerate when safe to do so.
Learn from others
More information can be gleaned from cars in front of you. Did the car come round the corner and appear quickly or suddenly? If it did, the chances are there is a sharp bend ahead, so prepare to slow down to negotiate it safely. Has the car in front braked for a corner? If the answer is yes, again the likelihood is the corner is tighter than you might expect. Combine these simple tricks into a smooth driving routine and you might not be a wizard behind the wheel, but you will certainly add a little magic to your driving.