Correct use of the five phases of the system will give you a safe and methodical approach to hazards.
What is a Hazard?
Basically, anything which is potentially dangerous. Use your skills to recognize a hazard, plan for it and take the appropriate action.
The Three main categories of Hazard are:
Physical features such as junctions, roundabouts and bends.
The position or movement of other road users.
Problems arising from variations in the road surface, weather and visibility.
Additional Roadside Hazards:
Pedestrians – especially children.
Parked vehicles – and their occupants.
Pedal cycles – once again, especially children.
For hazards on the near side it may be more appropriate to steer a course closer to the crown of the road. This would have the benefits of (a) giving you a better view, (b) providing more space to manoeuvre should it be necessary, and (c) allow you to dominate your road position and convey your intentions to other road users.
However, the principle of safety should never be sacrificed for position!
M atch your vehicles speed and direction to the traffic.
O bserve accurately.
R isks identified and kept to a minimum.
A ttention kept to a high level.
Awareness of road and traffic situations.
L imitations, know yours and the vehicles.
S kilful use of the vehicle controls.
The foundation of good driving is the ability to use sight, hearing and even smell to gain information about driving conditions.
Open your eyes:-
Most people only look at what is going on directly in front of them. Look in the distance as far as you can see then check out the middle distance before returning to the foreground. Check the sides and rear of the vehicle to build a bigger picture of all that is happening about you. Use all your mirrors and turn your head (it wont fall off!).
Look for other clues to give you an advanced warning of hazards. Reflections in shop windows, tree lines, eye contact with other drivers, cross views and other road users position, speed etc are just some of the aids available to you.
Know and read road signs. These will give you an advance warning of hazards that you can build into your driving plan.
Take your information from all that is happening around you. Use your mirrors and scan to the front and sides.
Use the information that you gather to make a driving plan. Base your decisions on the hazards that you have identified, but have a contingency plan for dealing with the unexpected Consider what can be seen – what cannot be seen – what might reasonably be expected to happen. If a new hazard arises, decide whether you need to re-run the system from an earlier phase.
Give information if you have decided that another road user would benefit from it. This also includes pedestrians and cyclists. The information phase runs throughout the whole of the System.
Position yourself so you can pass through the identified hazard safely and smoothly. Always take account of other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and children.
Adjust your speed where it is necessary. Use the accelerator, brake or (when required to avoid skidding) gears to give you the speed, which will enable you to complete the manoeuvre. Make good use of acceleration sense. Aim to make all speed adjustments smoothly and steadily. Early anticipation and good observation will help you in this.
When your speed is correct for the circumstances, engage the correct gear for that speed. If you have to brake to get the right speed, you can make the gear change before the end of the braking, but always try to avoid late braking and snatched gear changing.
The System of Motorcycle Control varies with the addition of a “lifesaver”. A look over the shoulder before making the manoeuvre. Most advanced drivers tend to do this when driving a car anyway.
Use your accelerator to maintain your speed and stability through the hazard. Depress the accelerator sufficiently to offset any loss of speed due to cornering forces. Take account of your speed, other road users and the road and traffic conditions ahead when deciding whether it is safe to accelerate away from a hazard.
Choose an appropriate point to accelerate safely and smoothly. Adjust the amount of acceleration to the circumstances.
All UK advanced drivers adopt into their driving plan The System of Car Control.
This system is a way of approaching and negotiating hazards that is methodical, safe and leaves nothing to chance.
A hazard is anything, which may be potentially dangerous.
THE FIVE PHASES OF THE SYSTEM
Speed and gear change can occasionally overlap. For example on a descent.
The diagram above sets out the five phases, showing that the information phase, although in ideal situations naturally preceding position, speed, gear and acceleration, is capable of overlapping and entering the system at whatever stage may be necessary.
As the information changes then the system must also have the flexibility to adapt to that change in circumstances.
For example: On the approach to a T junction a driver will have absorbed all the relevant information and taken a suitable position and speed in line with his driving plan. The information changes when a pedestrian steps off the pavement and into the road, and the driver must now consider whether to re-run the system from an earlier stage or not.
The system of car control gives you that essential aspect of safe driving – time to react.
The System of Motorcycle Control varies with the addition of a “lifesaver”, look over the shoulder between Gear and Acceleration, before making the manoeuvre.
Most advanced drivers tend to do this even when driving a car anyway.
These pages are designed as a study aid to be used prior to and during advanced / defensive driving tuition, and as a reference afterwards. Its aim is to provide you with the skills that are necessary to safely negotiate the increasingly busy and hazardous roads of Cyprus.
The overall principle will be that of safety, coupled with advice on how to control the speed and position of your vehicle in relation to everything else on the road.
Every traffic collision represents a loss of control, but by employing the principles contained here you will develop a heightened awareness of your own capabilities, your vehicles characteristics, and the road and traffic conditions.
WHY should I practice defensive driving?
Research shows that most drivers think that they are safer and more skillful than the average driver, and yet in more than 90% of traffic accidents, driver error is the cause.
The truth is that there exists a wide gap between perceived and actual ability. By training in, and constantly practising the art of defensive driving you will be more aware of the prevailing road and traffic conditions, improve your use of the vehicle controls and act to keep identified risks to a minimum.
HOW do I become proficient in advanced / defensive driving?
Defensive driving will above all else teach you to recognize, categorize and then to safely negotiate the many hazards that face us all every time we sit behind the wheel of a vehicle. Defensive driving will show you how to create a buffer zone of open space around your vehicle, giving you the time to select the best position, speed and gear to negotiate a hazard safely.
Take an active role in your training and be ready to open your mind to suggestions that may well clash with driving habits that you have built up over the years. Having a receptive attitude in your training will help you to absorb and then more easily employ the skills you learn.