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Old 7th January 2013, 23:24   #46
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Originally Posted by carmayogi View Post

Hazards are supposed to be used only when parked on the side or if you are braking having noticed an accident/obstruction ahead. Hazards are NOT to be used during heavy rain or fog, that's what tail lights and rear fog lights are for. Remember, if you use your hazards, you cannot indicate a lane change move which may be especially dangerous if you HAVE to make one!
What you say makes sense thank you for clarifying. But wouldn't it be obvious that you can't overtake or change lanes in low visibility so that's why the hazards?
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Old 7th January 2013, 23:28   #47
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

Another habit i have acquired is to listen to the car for abnormal noises intermittently. Because most of us listen to music while driving and miss subtle noises i have been stranded once for over 10 hrs because i did not listen to the soft hum of my rear wheel bearing till it completely disintegrated in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 7th January 2013, 23:44   #48
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

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Originally Posted by TheQuarterMile View Post
What you say makes sense thank you for clarifying. But wouldn't it be obvious that you can't overtake or change lanes in low visibility so that's why the hazards?
You shouldn't be overtaking, but in low visibility, it is much more likely that you will see an obstacle or a slower vehicle much later than normal. This would necessitate lane changes, even if you are driving slowly and carefully. If you have your headlights on your bright red tail lights will be completely visible to those around you, so you don't need the flashers to add to that.

Goes without saying that people using hazards in tunnels are idiots.
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Old 8th January 2013, 04:33   #49
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

Lovely thread. A lot of useful information. This list can be useful even for a experienced driver. I really like the sweeper car concept, I have personally used it quite a bit. I see a lot of people doing that on freeways in the US too if you plan to cruise at steady speed, just stick behind someone else doing the same.

I would like to add that driving with headlights on low beam is a good idea, but I have my reservation about fog lights. Here is a reference to the study on the non suitability of fog lamps in good visibility -
Autoblog - Accidents attributed to foglamps in the UK
I however think leaving your low beam lights or daytime running lights( if available) can be a life saver.


Thanks a bunch!

Last edited by vineethvazhayil : 8th January 2013 at 04:41.
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Old 8th January 2013, 07:31   #50
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

A pertinent thread, with all the right points well set forth, to aid anyone driving not only on Indian Highways but abroad as well.But, there are certain intangibles/points that are not in our hand and therefore , we need to take GTO points all the more seriously to safeguard the well being of us and others as well.

There are certain peculiarites associated with our system or our highways which make not only our automobile driving dangerous like inadequate road infrastructure,inadequate road signage,lack of driving etiquette exhibited by automobile drivers ...etc leading to innumberable cases of road-accidents,road fatalites.It has also afforded our country the notorious distinction of the worst when it comes to death due to road fatalities.

These intangibles/factors that are not in our hand and therefore make a strong case for why we should take the points set forth by GTO all the more seriously:-

(1) Every automobile driver who gets his/her license through touts, is a person who in the Future is either going to be the cause of an accident or will cause injury not only to himself but to others.These drivers lack basic etiquette for driving on road, and add to road accident numbers. Not much imagination is required in order to contemplate, when these drivers come on our highways, what danger they can be to others! Authorities should stop this, at the same time should make driving tests more rigorous so that only those qualify or pass the test should be issued licence.

(2) It seems to me that highway authorites give highway infrastructure projects to those companies who usually do not complete thier projects in alloted time.These companies usually do not complete thier projects in time, and the automobile drivers end up driving on thier 'half-baked' projects which have safety issues associated with them.Some regulatory authority should take care of this problem.Adequate maintenance is of vital importance considering the wear and tear of highways.

(3) Stop this menace of the 'Overloaded Truck'.An overloaded truck is not only causing undue stress on each and every component of the vehicle, its also shortening the life of the highway.Just like a metal worker who hammers the metal to make it malleable, Every Overloaded Truck driving down our Indian highways is actually hammering down the surface of highway, shortening its Life.Notwithstanding the fact, that a Overloaded truck is a dangerous to drive, Since, its waiting to turn turtle!!.There should be some mechanism to stop this menace.

(4) In order to curb over-speeding on highways hefty fines may be the norm.But, there is another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration.Its related to the speed interceptors. Usually stationery speed interceptors are placed at a certain location, each and every day. The regular user of highway knows the location beforehand, he would remain within speed limit before approaching a speed trap, but once across, he 'll surely over speed.The point being why not place stationery speed interceptors at random locations.On the contrary , I would prefer a mobile speed interceptor rather than a stationery one!, But then that would be an altogether difficult task for our authorities to implement.

And many other points, intangibles.... Now, I could go on and on about these peculiarities --which would afford the need for another thread--which make our highways far more dangerous than those abroad.The reason ,I set forth these few intangibles/points is that we should keep at the back of our mind those factors that are not in our hand , and those factors that we can take control of or points we need to keep in mind while driving on Indian Highways, points well elucidated by GTO.I agree with all those points set forth by GTO.

Some points from my side:

(1) I would prefer to drive at night instead of day, because, at night the volume of traffic on highways is less,you know before hand that you'll have trucks, few cars, and rare roadways buses on highways at night.Time to reach destination gets shortened.Unlike, daytime when you'll have to jostle for space with everything the highway will throw at you, like slowmoving tractors, pedestrians j-walking on intersections, etc.Even if there is a broken down goods vehicle at night on highway, chances of meeting up with a jam are less, unlike day, when it would have spiraling effects, jams growing up to more than a mile.

(2) On a highway with 3-lane each side, seperated by a divider.Whether going up or down such a highway, my inclination is always stick to the middle lane. No matter how many overtaking maneuvers I take, I always come back to the middle lane. Lets say, if there is something that abruptly comes in front of my vehicle--stray animal ,pedestrain running across , etc--simplistic reaction might be to employ brake, but usually there are vehicles behind, so employing brake may not be a good idea.Other option left being: outmaneuver , well thats the best option, now I have left and right lane , I can take either of them to outmaneuver the incoming obstacle, I have sufficient room to maneuver. Unlike, those who drive on the farthest right lane or left, they have only one lane left: the adjacent lane, and what if there was already a vehicle that was running in exactly the same speed as you were on that adjacent lane, then you have no room to maneuver and no other option except to brake.

(3) While driving on the highway, approaching a junction, you suddenly find yourself in a situation where a stray animal issuing from the junction , trying to cross the road. My inclination is to maneuver the vehicle from behind the stray animal rather than front. The direction of the car is perpendicular to the direction of the animal,whether the animal intends to cross from right to left or left to right, always maneuver your vehicle from behind the animal, both your vehicle and the animal will be safe, relative motion of both vehicle and animal will make sure both are clear.

(4) I think, hazard light should be employed if your vehicle is broken down, and therefore illegally parked on highway.Whilst, in moving vehicle, I would turn on hazard light if I find that there is an accident in front, so as to slow down and the hazard light telling incoming traffic from behind that there is some hazard in front.

And many other points already highlighted by GTO.

By the By, It would be a novel idea to create a thread that says " What are the peculiarities that set our highway apart from those abroad".
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Old 8th January 2013, 08:37   #51
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

Very well written GTO.

How do we differentiate "company-owned-company-operated" petrol pumps from the rest?

I always choose to start my long drives early in the morning and avoid evenings on the road. This helps to avoid motorcyclists and autowalas for atleast 3 hours of my drive. Also I plan in such a way that if I have to drive in the night, then drive in a 4 lane highway.

One experience I learned over the years is not to trust other drivers even if you have right of the way and you made an eye contact with other driver.

Watch out for drunk drivers. If you suspect a driver as drunk, let him pass or stay out of his way.
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Old 8th January 2013, 09:01   #52
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

Thank you GTO for this superb thread. Another permalink goes into my link directory, to send to all my friends and driving enthusiasts.

Could I please request an experienced Motorcyclist in the moderator group to post a similar write up for us 2-wheel enthusiasts. This request is driven from a couple of fatal accidents involving superbiking enthusiasts in the recent past, around Mumbai.

I could think of a few names now, but would rather leave it up to your judgement. Will not presume to know enough on the topic to write one myself.

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Old 8th January 2013, 09:41   #53
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

A great refresher irrespective of driving experience.

To add one from my book - Always respect locals (people, vehicles, fauna) when you pass through small towns, villages. We may get carried away by our big city experience and long highway stints expecting the locals to behave accordingly (e.g. look before crossing the road, move out of your way etc.). It would be best to be aware of their context and be patient instead of honking, overtaking from left, blocking roads etc. like I've seen a good number of folks do.

Question:
This is a situation I've encountered many times recently. I sometimes slow down behind slow moving vehicles waiting for the right opportunity to pass. In some sections where there are lots of blind spots and passing opportunities are far and few, traffic starts building up behind me. Now when I see a potential pass opportunity and I pull to the right, the car (it always is a car and sometimes tempos) behind immediately closes the gap I left behind. I immediately tense up since that takes away the safety cushion I have to abort the move if needed (be it a mistake on my part or some sudden surprise). This is especially so if you are trying to overtake long trucks. So far I've stayed safe and lucky but am always tensed at the possibilities when this happens. Now a days, due to this stress, I wait longer for the opportunity to pass but it seems to cheese off the folks behind who want to now pass me and the other vehicle together from right or left. In fact some folks muscle their way past me and then abort the move to tuck in between me and the vehicle in front (I do sensibly let them in to avoid mishaps) This is the one situation that still has me confused as to what is the best approach to take.

Appreciate your thoughts and comments.
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Old 8th January 2013, 10:19   #54
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
The "Sweeper" Car
• On an unfamiliar highway or one with dense traffic, you'll be amazed at how stress-free a "sweeper" car can make the journey. Use a lead car that’s well-driven...
This was probably the biggest surprise within the article. For the last 25-odd years that I have been driving on Indian highways, I have always used 'sweeper' vehicles - my choice of 'sweeper' is not a car but a long-distance truck - to rest up my eyes and/or negotiate through fog. I have always used the particular term ('sweeper') to designate such a vehicle whom I would follow, though I have never come across the term elsewhere.

It is always good to bear in mind that a truck driver has better visibility of the road ahead in fog, because of his high seat and low level (with respect to his eye level) headlamps, and it is wiser to take advantage of this and folllow him, than barrelling blindly through fog.

A few points I would like to add:
Quote:
Note the manner in which the car is parked. It's on the wrong side of the road, but allows a clear view of the road ahead for traffic coming from the other side - safer than parking on the left (legal) side, where the visibility would be hampered when moving off again, as well as for oncoming traffic which might be trying to blindly overtake round a curve/corner. Ideally, of course, I would park on a straight stretch rather than on the cusp of a curve (some idiot might forget to turn his steering wheel!)

Quote:
• Never overload your car with excessive passengers or cargo. Overloading will negatively impact its dynamic behaviour and increase braking distances, due to the greater momentum.
Roof racks with even 10 kg of load make the handling of any passenger vehicle go haywire. If you are on ghat roads/mountains, it is wiser to NEVER use a roof rack to carry luggage.

Quote:
• Keep the windows rolled up.
Rolling down the driver side window a couple of inches for a few minutes occasionally, lets in fresh air, lets you hear the car's noises (engine, suspension, tyres) more clearly, and lets you smell anything that might be originating in the engine bay (modern car cabins are extremely well insulated from the engine bay, so hardly any smell percolates through).

Quote:
• Always keep your low beam and fog lamps on, even during the day.
Your choice. On a clear day, I don't use lights. At night I never use fog lamps unless it is foggy. But whatever you do, DO NOT turn on HAZARD lights in fog - they have a mesmeric effect on the driver following you, and you don't want to have him enter your boot with his car without an invitation! Install high intensity fog lamps, both front and rear, instead, if your car is not already so equipped.

That said, my cars have always been white/whitish for better visibility to other road users (I haven't got into the 'midlife crisis' stage yet where I wish to own a red car!!) - greys and blacks and dark greens obviously are less visible to other road users in foggy conditions.

Quote:
• If you should come across an animal going perpendicular to your path (e.g. cow), always try to pass from behind it. The probability of an animal moving forward is substantially higher than it moving backward.
Applies to cows - but not to dogs and goats, which tend to turn tail and scatter. ANY animal can be scared by the sudden appearance of a car, especially if you also blow your horn simultaneously, and either stay rooted at the same place or make an unpredictable move. Slow down, don't honk, and pass them with a wide berth.

Quote:
• Take your sunglasses off before entering a tunnel
If you use prescription lenses and taking off your sunglasses leaves you with impaired sight, ask for graduated lenses which are clearer towards the lower half and darker above. Slightly adjusting them and looking through the bottom half of the lenses gives you better visibility in a tunnel. DO NOT change prescription spectacles while driving - always stop and do it.

Quote:
• Avoid overtaking from the left side of a vehicle.
Some 4-lane highways (NH58 is a case in point) have so many slow-moving vehicles that buses & trucks hog the right lane exclusively. Perforce, overtaking HAS to be from the left if you need to make fair progress. However, do it with extreme caution.
Quote:
• Avoid overeating, it'll only make you drowsy. Eat till you are ~70% full.
LOL... I am on a starvation diet on long drives! Liquids and biscuits...
Quote:
• Worried about which restaurant serves good food? Use herd mentality. A restaurant with many cars in the parking lot usually has a good reputation.
...or look for the joints where truck-wallahs eat. NEVER stop to eat at a place frequented by passenger buses - the food is invariably bad and overpriced, but the bus passenger has no choice. You do.
Quote:
...park at a safe spot and take a nap!
Lock your doors, keep your windows open just about half an inch, and switch off the engine - keeping the aircon running when you sleep in the car is lucrative in summers, but an old car with its exhaust gases leaking into the cabin can be a major hazard.

As GTO says...
Quote:
Happy road-tripping!

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 8th January 2013 at 10:26.
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Old 8th January 2013, 10:29   #55
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Note the manner in which the car is parked. It's on the wrong side of the road, but allows a clear view of the road ahead for traffic coming from the other side - safer than parking on the left (legal) side, where the visibility would be hampered when moving off again, as well as for oncoming traffic which might be trying to blindly overtake round a curve/corner. Ideally, of course, I would park on a straight stretch rather than on the cusp of a curve (some idiot might forget to turn his steering wheel!)
There are many disadvantages/danger to parking the car on the wrong side
  • Oncoming vehicles can misjudge the road (as relative to the parked vehicle), especially if the visibility is poor (due to bad light, fog or curve on the road)
  • It exposes the passengers coming out of the vehicle to the dangerous side (more so if there are kids)
  • Driver has to be extra alert as he has to watch out for both sides while parking and pulling out

With regards to keeping the parking light/fog lamps on, I found that it gets very distracting as every passer by points at the light thinking you have put them on by mistake . I have faced this whenever I have put the parking lights/fog lamps on even thought it was getting dark!

Last edited by Guna : 8th January 2013 at 10:33.
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Old 8th January 2013, 11:25   #56
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

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Originally Posted by Guna View Post
There are many disadvantages/danger to parking the car on the wrong side
  • Oncoming vehicles can misjudge the road (as relative to the parked vehicle), especially if the visibility is poor (due to bad light, fog or curve on the road)
  • It exposes the passengers coming out of the vehicle to the dangerous side (more so if there are kids)
  • Driver has to be extra alert as he has to watch out for both sides while parking and pulling out
It's a choice and judgment one has to make, especially in the mountains and ghats, about whether to park on the wrong side of the road or not. Note that on this particular stretch of road there are crash barriers on the left side (inside of the curve) which prevent you from parking off the metalled surface of the road. I would say it's bad road design/engineering, since a speeding car can drift off the road on the outside of a curve and would need to have crash barriers there to keep it on the road.
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Old 8th January 2013, 11:41   #57
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

As per today's TOI, Family's photo on dash cuts accidents.
I remember some other member also mentioning this.

While stopping the car on the highway for a break/nap, switching off the car is important. There is a risk of the car battery running out if the blower is left on while the engine is off (only if the the vehicle is parked for a long duration; approimately over 2 hours - May be faster if ICE is on).

Last edited by vasanthn21 : 8th January 2013 at 11:44.
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Old 8th January 2013, 12:33   #58
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

Great and timely article, and people pitching in helps this thread become a goldmine. I would request all experienced folks to pitch in wherever required.

Did a 7000km roadtrip a couple of months back, so want to reemphasize a few points (almost all points have been covered in detail):

1. Work on increasing anticipation - I think this is extremely important. Just a few examples...
  • Is that guy - coming towards you/behind you - trying a risky maneuver? Do you need to slow down or accelerate?
  • You are about to overtake a truck from the right (say) - is there a slow moving auto/rickshaw/cycle on the left lane (or say some animal approaching from he highway from the left side)? It will mean that the truck will suddenly swerve to the right - perhaps just when you are crossing it.
  • An animal or human thinking of crossing the road - what is the relative velocity? Would honking prevent that dog from jumping into the road? Animal behaviour depends on type of the animal. Dogs have good judgement and could forward or turn back. Herbivores usually will stand still or go forward. Chicken: Brownian motion, can't predict. I prefer honking and giving plenty of notice to humans or animals to make their choice.
  • Slow down when approaching a blind spot e.g. rise or dip on the road (on two/one lane highways) - often some fool is overtaking and coming towards you - and you might find too late that two vehicles are approaching each other head on. Good idea to slow down a but on curves too - sometimes on 4 /6 lane highways, you will find huge bullock carts/camels/elephants/tractors (insert random creature or object) coming at you on your lane. and blocking the entire lane.
2. Highway beginners: take it easy initially e.g. in terms of speed, distances covered in a day etc.

3. Be very courteous to locals. I went through 10 feet wide village roads in UP and MP, people were helpful when I asked them for directions or asked someone to move a bike/cycle that was parked blocking the road. At the same time, assess the environment before stopping somewhere.

4. Know the power and torque characteristics (curve) of your vehicle well - will help in relaxed overtaking or when in the hills. E.g. in my vehicle peak torque is from 1400 RPM onwards - so I make sure that I ride the torque curve when doing any overtaking. And in any case, you need to know your vehicle well (handling, braking, strengths and weaknesses)! E.g. I go easy on downslopes but can drive fast on upslopes because my vehicle has average brakes but good power/torque (applicable anywhere even on super roads e.g. when driving on the Mumbai - Pune Expressway, say)

5. Get adequate rest...and know your endurance limits. Please take a break at some well-lit fuel pump (while driving in the night) - with lots of other vehicles (trucks, buses) parked if you are sleepy. While day driving, follow the advice about taking 2 hour breaks if that works for you. Good idea to carry some Odomos in the vehicle (for those power naps in the night).

6. Avoid going below 25% fuel

7. Avoid getting into races. Apart from the safety aspect, the guy could have ego issues - and could be a politician, a local toughie, or drunk.

8. Drink lots of fluid

9. High beam vs. low beam: Use high beam unless low beam is required (e.g. oncoming traffic is coming, you are following a vehicle or when driving on curvy roads on hills - high beam could dazzle you, reflecting from the hillside). The extra visibility and reaction time is worth it.

Last edited by nilanjanray : 8th January 2013 at 12:39.
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Old 8th January 2013, 13:24   #59
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

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Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
9. High beam vs. low beam: Use high beam unless low beam is required...
The extra visibility and reaction time is worth it.
Very debatable, Nilanjan. I am personally inclined to word it the other way round: Use low beam unless high beam is required. With improving condition of highways in general, and with better quality of headlamp beams, even low beam is often adequate in a majority of situations. I dream of the day when the use of low beams is a habit with most drivers in this country, especially after this behaviour has been an eye-opener for me while driving in Thailand. The strain on the other driver's eyes is so much less when everybody drives around on low beam on the highways, as they do in that country.

I have been trying to achieve that in the last few trips by setting my headlights to Position #1 (highest level) and driving on low beam regularly, maintaining speeds of 80-90 km/h. . It really isn't a difficult thing to do, unless one wants to go really fast (but then, night drives and very high speeds are best not mixed).
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Old 8th January 2013, 13:39   #60
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Default Re: ARTICLE: Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats

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Originally Posted by advaitlele View Post
Can someone help me here. I have read in multiple online blogs / forums about driving in neutral when approaching known stop / tollbooth etc. Why is it dangerous to be in neutral gear
+
Quote:
Originally Posted by veerubhai View Post
Can anybody clarify why should we not use neutral gear while driving in highways or city?
In short : NEVER coast in neutral. It negates engine braking, gives you less control over the car, and even uses more fuel.

Check out these two threads on the topic:

1) http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ing-right.html (Shifting to Neutral or Pressing the Clutch when Braking - Is this right?)

2) http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ar-brakes.html (The best way to use the clutch, gear and brakes)


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Originally Posted by 90BHP View Post
Be extra mindful while turning at speeds above 100kmph in an empty car, not that you should not if it is full :-) but, as an empty car does not always hug the road that comfortably as a car with all passengers due to a high CoG.
This really depends on a lot of factors (car suspension set up etc). However, overall i wouldn't agree with it as a tip. When you've got more weight in the car, you've actually got more centrifugal force acting against it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by carmayogi View Post
Hazards are supposed to be used only when parked on the side or if you are braking having noticed an accident/obstruction ahead. Hazards are NOT to be used during heavy rain or fog, that's what tail lights and rear fog lights are for. Remember, if you use your hazards, you cannot indicate a lane change move which may be especially dangerous if you HAVE to make one!
Agree 10000%.

Also, most people don't realise that cars do have REAR fog-lights. These are brighter red lights, and the purpose is to make your car more visible to others in poor visibility conditions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sriku View Post
Could I please request an experienced Motorcyclist in the moderator group to post a similar write up for us 2-wheel enthusiasts.
Don't miss this absolutely superb 2-wheeler safety guide that the guys at xBHP have put together :
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/motorb...ding-safe.html (An Excellent Guide on Riding Safe !)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Guna View Post
There are many disadvantages/danger to parking the car on the wrong side
I agree with this. Though i think in this case its a 1-way ghat.

cya
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