Road safety: Top tips on controlling your power

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Road safety charity IAM’s chief examiner Peter Rodger offers regular advice on improving your driving. This week, using power with control.

“Power and acceleration are no good without control. This is especially true when drivers are faced with cold, wet and slippery conditions.”

“Here are six tips to ensure you remain in control:

l Be aware of the way your car applies power to the road. As acceleration shifts weight from the front to the back of the car, the wheels of front wheel-drive cars will spin more easily in wet and icy conditions.

l Accelerate smoothly and maintain a safe speed particularly in wintery conditions – remember the speed limit may be too fast especially when conditions are poor.

l Make sure you’re in the correct gear before overtaking and use as much power as is safe bearing in mind your car’s abilities, the speed limit and the road conditions.

l Changing your use of the accelerator is a good way of slowing down, without ever needing to touch the brake. When you can see traffic slowing up ahead, ease off the power in advance instead of driving up behind it and breaking as you arrive. This will reduce the amount you have to brake and save fuel.

l When approaching bends, reduce your speed, but ensure you maintain a constant speed and a smooth line through the bend. As you drive out of the bend, you can increase the power. If it’s slippery, leave accelerating until you are straightened up properly.

l On level ground or downhill you should be able to start from stationery without using the accelerator in a modern car – just lift the clutch carefully, and then very gently apply power once you are moving. When the roads are icy, this can be a useful technique.

“Wintery conditions don’t necessarily mean you can’t go out, but if weather conditions are very hazardous, do question whether you really need to make the journey. Understanding your car’s acceleration and power will help you stay in control whatever the weather.”