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Summer driving techniques

  • tuesday, 12 september 2011

Learn some effective techniques for summer driving. Find out how to avoid dangerous situations on the road, and read how to deal with them when they arise.

Summer driving techniques

What is the proper position behind the wheel?

  • Hold the steering wheel with both hands, enabling you to perform manoeuvres instantaneously and with precision
  • Avoid sitting in a "sofa" position – correct body posture ensures maximum effectiveness when performing manoeuvres

Although driving is easier on a dry surface, there are certain principles you should always remember.

What causes skidding?

On dry surfaces we feel safer and drive at faster speeds. This is often the main reason for a vehicle going into a skid. Skidding happens as a result of sudden sharp turning of the steering wheel or emergency braking. Another cause is taking turns too fast. The car tells you that you are passing the adhesion limit: it tilts significantly, and the tyres start to squeak. Skidding follows, usually with understeer.

How to react in case of skidding with understeer

A vehicle skidding on a turn with understeer is fairly easy to bring under control: just gently ease off the accelerator and everything should be fine. The car will pass through the turn safely, at the adhesion limit. Why is this?

Designers of vehicle suspension make driver safety their top priority. They therefore build a car that will be easy and pleasant to drive, reacting to loads and loss of grip in a predictable manner.

How to perform emergency braking and avoid an obstacle

Emergency braking with avoidance of an obstacle
Figure 1. Emergency braking with avoidance of an obstacle
  • Perform the manoeuvre carried out during a "moose test". This involves a sudden change of lane in order to avoid collision with the obstacle.
  • Next reduce your speed as much as possible on the section leading up to the obstacle
  • At the last moment, reduce the pressure on the brake pedal and turn in order to perform an avoidance manoeuvre

Why reduce the pressure on the brake pedal?

Because during braking the wheels do not have sufficient adhesion to turn safely.
Braking is possible with an ABS system. However even then the vehicle will experience understeer, and so a minimal reduction of pressure on the pedal is recommended.
It is not necessary to reduce the brake pressure if the vehicle has traction control. In that case all necessary calculations will be performed by the computer.


What is aquaplaning?

In short, aquaplaning refers to a situation where a tyre loses grip because it does not "pump out" water to the side sufficiently fast from the surface where the tyre is in contact with the road.

How to react in case of aquaplaning

  • Keep calm
  • Lose speed
  • Make only gentle corrections to the steering wheel position, so as to prevent the vehicle from reacting too sharply after it regains grip

How to prevent aquaplaning

  • Ensure that your tyres are at the correct pressure
  • Adjust your speed to the weather conditions (at speeds over 70km/h a 7 mm layer of water is enough to cause aquaplaning)
  • Remember to check the condition of your tyres

How to drive safely onto the hard shoulder

Avoiding an obstacle by driving onto the hard shoulder. Correct driver reaction
Figure 2. Avoiding an obstacle by driving onto the hard shoulder. Correct driver reaction
  • Keep calm
  • Move onto the hard shoulder so as to avoid the obstacle
  • Return to the carriageway with a calm, fluent and gentle movement
  • Do not brake - use the accelerator pedal to try to maintain the same speed as you were travelling before leaving the carriageway.

The situation on the road often makes it necessary to drive onto the hard shoulder - to avoid an obstacle on the road, or prevent collision with an oncoming overtaking vehicle. In this case you should follow the advice below:

Common errors:

Avoiding an obstacle by driving onto the hard shoulder. Error - steering wheel turned through the wrong angle
Figure 3. Avoiding an obstacle by driving onto the hard shoulder. Error - steering wheel turned through the wrong angle
  • When returning to the carriageway, do not turn the steering wheel too hard, as this will increase the turn of the wheels
  • If the wheels are turned too much, they will make the vehicle go into a skid when it returns to the asphalt surface
  • Instinctively pressing the brake pedal will only intensify the dangerous skid


Ruts in the road are more dangerous the deeper they are. Driving straight along ruts is not in itself a problem. Trouble arises when you want to change lane (for example when overtaking).

How to drive out of a rut correctly, as when overtaking

  • Avoid sharp movements of the steering wheel, as these can cause skidding
  • The manoeuvre must be made decisively, but calmly
  • Be sure to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle you are overtaking
  • Return to your own lane at a longer distance

What to do in case of ruts filled with water

  • Ruts filled with water increase the risk of aquaplaning. The rut makes it very difficult to maintain a stable line of travel
  • In this situation, drive to the side, making the vehicle travel just to the side of the ruts, ensuring that none of the wheels drops into the rut

Burst tyre

Not in most cases.

The situation may be dangerous in case of sudden loss of pressure when taking a turn at great speed. In this case any loss of adhesion presents a risk of danger.

How does a car behave when it has a burst tyre?

Understeer on a turn due to a tyre burst.
Figure 4. Understeer on a turn due to a tyre burst.

Following loss of pressure, the tyre loses adhesion. The way of driving depends on which tyre has burst.

How does a car behave with a burst right front tyre?

  • The vehicle will start to react with significant understeer on a left-hand turn, where the greatest part of the adhesion comes from the right-hand tyre
  • An additional effect of loss of air in the tyre will be that the vehicle sinks lower on the side of the burst tyre
  • When loss of air makes the vehicle sink lower on the side of the burst tyre, the load will be reduced on the diagonally opposite tyre (the rear left tyre in this case)
  • Braking will be more difficult
  • In the case of a rear-drive vehicle making a turn, a burst rear tyre may cause skidding

What are the effects of gradual loss of air?

This phenomenon is extremely treacherous. It may happen when you drive over a nail, for instance. You may not notice it while driving normally – only when taking a turn do you realize that the vehicle lacks sufficient grip. For this reason, when on a journey, make it a rule to check the tyre pressure at every stop.

Tyres - your safety

Tyres are a very significant factor in ensuring a safe journey. Make sure you use them properly – regularly check the tyre pressure and the condition of the tread.


The content of the above article should be treated as general information only.

Information given on driving techniques is to be used at your own risk, with due care, and in a place which is closed to road traffic.