Sessions 29 and 30 focus on crash avoidance skills that incorporate vision, steering, and vehicle braking techniques. Conduct the following drills in a large, level parking lot free of obstacles. Place cones or other “targets” at selected locations on the lot. The new driver will practice compensating for side to side, front to rear, and rear to front vehicle weight shifts that affect vehicle balance and performance.
Straight-line Braking Drill
Once your teen reaches 15-20 mph, instruct him or her to stop in the shortest distance possible. Sudden braking causes the vehicle load to shift from the rear to the front wheels. If the brakes lock, coach your teen to release just enough pressure to get the wheels rolling again. Once they are rolling again, have the novice driver reapply part of the brake pressure. If the vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes and goes into the hard braking mode, coach your teen to maintain pressure on the brake pedal even if the pedal vibrates or makes a grinding sound. Practice this drill several times. Measure the differences in the stopping distances.
Braking in a Curve
In an area free of obstacles, set up a series of cones or other markers to simulate a curve in the roadway. Ask your teen to decrease the vehicle’s speed to increase control prior to entering the curve, to visually target the exit point, and to accelerate midway through the curve. Now have your teen approach the curve without reducing speed, and coach the driver to try to maintain/regain vehicle balance. Do this exercise several times to reinforce the importance of reducing speed before entering a curve.
Progress to having your teen approach the curve without slowing and instruct him or her to stop abruptly in the middle of the curve to simulate a blocked roadway. The weight of the vehicle will transfer to the front tire on the outside of the curve, and the front tires may slide (under-steer). If the tire begins to slide, coach your teen to release a slight amount of brake pressure to regain steering control. With limited weight on the inside rear tire, this tire may also lose traction. If this occurs, ask your teen to look in the direction he or she wants the vehicle to go and counter steer in that direction. This emergency braking while turning skill requires a lot of practice.
Hydroplaning happens when the tires float on top of water and can occur at slow speeds depending on tire pressure, tire tread, and water depth. Simulating hydroplaning can be done on a rainy day in a large parking lot free of obstacles. Using cones, have your teen “draw” a figure eight around them at a very slow speed. Have the novice driver increase speed gradually to the point of hydroplaning. When this occurs, coach your teen to reduce speed and to look and steer in the direction he or she wants the vehicle to travel.
Running off the roadway is a frequent cause of fatal crashes for novice drivers. With practice, proper off-road recovery is not a difficult skill to learn. Locate a straight section of roadway with no traffic and a gravel, dirt, or grass shoulder that is even with the road surface. Do not practice this skill on a road that drops off at the edge or has potholes or obstacles on the shoulder. The novice driver can easily lose control and do serious damage to the tires, wheels, or underside of the vehicle. Even at slow speeds, dirt or loose gravel can reduce traction, causing the vehicle to slide or skid. At higher speeds, the vehicle may also swing from side to side. At a slow speed, ask the new driver to leave the roadway, and to:
- get both wheels off the pavement and steer the vehicle parallel to the roadway;
- stay off the gas and DO NOT brake; and
- check traffic and ease back on the roadway at a SLOW speed
NOTE: If you run off the road, stay off the road until you can safely get back on the paved surface.
Checklist for Sessions 29-30
|Place “S” for satisfactory as the following tasks are completed:|
|Approaches the vehicle with awareness|
|Enters the vehicle and makes appropriate checks and adjustments|
|Checks mirrors before slowing or stopping|
Straight line braking
|Stops immediately on command|
|Adjusts brake pressure to avoid wheel lockup|
|Maintains brake pressure during ABS hard braking mode|
|Stops vehicle safely in the shortest distance possible|
Braking in a curve
|Adjusts speed prior to entering the curve|
|Regains vehicle control after entering the curve without reducing speed|
|Performs controlled stop in the middle of the curve|
|Reduces speed and steers in the proper direction|
|Controls vehicle off-road|
|Eases vehicle onto the paved surface|
|Properly secures vehicle|