Although cornering in a car may require as little as a turn of the steering wheel, there is a little more to it than that. For a complete novice, or a learner with little experience, it's often difficult to establish where the kerb on the left side of the car is in relation to the car. This is where we can refer to our "Normal Driving Position" reference point.
Remember it is where the Left kerb appears to "hit" the car. Remember it is near the centre of the front window.
If the kerb goes over to the right too much past the reference marker, you're getting too close to the kerb, too far left and you're too far away
Some bends, particularly in dangerous areas where bends may be very sharp, road signs may be accompanied with road markings telling you to slow down. Be highly cautious of bends with junctions. Vehicles may be entering or exiting the junction.
Not all bends in the road will have a warning sign before them. Such bends are particularly hazardous on rural country roads.
To help understand when a bend in the road is approaching, think of a long straight road. At the very tip, in the distance the two sides of the road appear to meet each other. This is called the limit point - the visual limit of the road ahead. On a continuous straight road, you will never reach this limit point. As a bend approaches however, this limit point will gradually get closer. The faster it approaches, the more you will need to slow down before taking it.
When you've located a bend up ahead:
- Check your mirrors to ensure a vehicle (if any) behind you is not following excessively closely. If they are, you may need to slow down sooner to provide them with more time to react to the bend up ahead.
- Assess your speed and adjust accordingly based on how fast the bend is approaching and if any vehicles are following. Ease off the accelerator earlier rather than using the brakes harshly later. This is safer and is also kinder to the car. When braking, use progressive braking as this technique provides a smooth transition in speed and is safe for other road users. When you are at the speed that is right for the bend change down to the appropriate gear as this will provide better control of the car.
- Check your road position by ensuring you keep to the centre of your lane. Avoid creeping too close to the opposite carriageway as other vehicles may be taking the corner wide, especially if the vehicle is large. Avoid cutting the corner at all costs.
Braking whilst cornering
Always try to gain the appropriate speed (and then gear) for the corner before entering it. Tyres need to deal with a lot of forces. In a straight line motion, a car is balanced and stable, as you enter a bend, the tyres need to deal with forward motion, plus centrifugal force.
They're making you go forward, but also trying to prevent you from skidding off the road due to steering around the corner. That's a lot to deal with but if you now add braking into this, you really begin to upset the balance of the car. Almost all weight is now distributed to just the front tyres.
Unless you enter the corner at a ridiculously high speed, braking whilst cornering may not be too much of an issue whilst driving on a flat, stable and dry road. Try braking whilst cornering on wet or icy roads however and all of a sudden your car becomes an out-of-control metal missile.
Always try to avoid braking, especially harshly on a bend. Along with being far safer, it's also a lot kinder to your tyres, giving them a longer lifespan.
Exiting the bend
As the bend begins to recede and open up you can gently begin to accelerate once again. Take another look in your rear view mirrors on the corner exit as this is a common place where motorists may attempt to overtake.
Cornering on wet or icy roads
Your car is far more likely to lose traction with the road surface if it is wet, and even more so if icy. Always take weather conditions into account whilst driving. Harsh corners will likely need to be taken at a much reduced speed in bad weather and remember to avoid heavy braking whilst cornering.
Cornering in a car tips
The main objectives whilst taking a corner in a car are:
Enter a corner at a speed you intend on taking it. Choose a suitable gear before entering the bend. This is to avoid harsh braking whilst cornering which can result in your car losing control. Harsh braking put heavy load and forces on the front tyres making the vehicle unstable.
is crucial whilst entering the corner and whilst travelling around it. Never cut a corner as you never know what might be coming the other way.
Always consider your stopping distance and ensure you are able to safely stop within the distance you can see ahead. A basic understanding of limit point analysis may help to understand.
Weather and road conditions
Always consider your speed before entering a corner, not only due to the severity of the corner, but whether the road is wet, icy and the condition of the road surface itself. Loose chippings and potholes impact the stability of a car whilst cornering.