Driving around bends

To drive safely around a bend, you must look well ahead and decide

  • how sharp the bend is
  • at what speed you need to be travelling so you can drive around it under control.

There are various ways to judge how sharp a bend is, including

  • looking at what you can see of the bend
  • taking notice of road signs before the bend
  • using ‘limit point analysis’: ask your driving instructor to explain this to you if you do not know this method.

When you’re deciding on the line you should take and the best speed for a bend, you’ll also need to think about factors such as

  • adverse camber – where the road slopes downwards towards the outside of the corner; this makes it harder for the tyres to grip the road in the corner
  • banking – where the road slopes upwards towards the outside of the bend, making it easier for the tyres to grip the road
  • uneven or slippery surfaces
  • weather conditions, which can affect the amount of grip the tyres have on the road
  • visibility – how much you can see of the road ahead
  • road junctions – if vehicles are emerging from a junction or slowing down to turn, you’ll have to be ready and able to slow down
  • other road users who may be travelling around the bend at a different speed to you
  • the performance and handling of your vehicle: different vehicles will handle differently through bends.

If there is a severe camber (slope) on a bend, the top of a large vehicle can lean up to 250 mm (approx 10 inches). This will affect the centre of gravity of the vehicle and could increase the risk of colliding with buildings, other vehicles or street furniture. Keep your speed slow to drive around the bend safely.

You’ll need to use the gears, accelerator, brakes and steering in the correct combination to drive around a bend safely and responsibly.

  • Use the footbrake to control your speed as you approach a bend.
  • Choose the correct gear for your speed.
  • Use the accelerator carefully.
  • Steer to hold the correct line through the bend.

The size and weight of your vehicle will affect how it handles on bends. The larger and heavier the vehicle, the slower you’ll need to go.

The handling will also be affected by carrying passengers or loads. The extra weight will increase the centrifugal force acting on the vehicle: this force pushes load towards the outside of the bend. If this force becomes too big, the vehicle could slide across the road.

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