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Old 27th July 2015, 10:00   #1
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Default Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Most of us are taught to brake to keep safe.
Pedestrian crossing road? Brake
Cars ahead slowing? Brake
Want to turn? Brake
Truck ahead moved to left lane? Brake
Going too fast? Brake
Going down hill? Brake
Taking a curve? Brake
So on and on.....

I would like to present (and compile) scenarios where acceleration is the safer option.

Scenario : Overtaking
This is one of the most dangerous but unavoidable maneuvers on the road. Be it single or dual carriageway.
As soon as you have established that it is safe to overtake the vehicle ahead, accomplish this as quickly as possible. Accelerating through to accomplish overtaking in the least possible time is logical. Even dropping down a gear to accelerate faster is recommended.
However I see people slowly and gradually overtake. They would like to preserve fuel economy so much that acceleration is avoided. Many go through multiple hesitations and overtake timidly. They will leave the accelerator for a second and then press on.
Remember building speed is not an instantaneous process. Leaving the accelerator (or worse tapping the brake briefly) reduces momentum and it takes time to build it up again. This increases the time you are exposed to risk whilst overtaking.

Scenario : Taking a curve on the highway
Again, most people brake through the curve, reducing speed in order to take the curve safely. The point is you should brake "before" the curve and NOT while into the curve. This eliminates chances of the vehicle losing grip and under-steering.
However once into the curve it is in fact easier to maneuver through with light acceleration added. As you turn the wheel also lightly press the accelerator if you are at a safe speed. The vehicle will handle the curve better and safely.

Waiting for comments and inputs from others before putting out more scenarios.

Last edited by GTO : 31st July 2015 at 12:55. Reason: As per PM
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Old 27th July 2015, 10:13   #2
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Good subject, Sudip. But please tread carefully here. There are people who draw a blank if you say steering feedback or "feeling the grip". If the reader one of those kinds, please do exercise caution. While using the accelerator is necessary to keep the car in control, it is less applicable in slower speeds or city driving. Braking before a turn and accelerating through turns are practices at higher than average level skill. It needs good level of confidence and skill to judge speed and capability of the car to execute correctly. The first and best way to be safe is to drive within the limits of the car and the driver.
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Old 27th July 2015, 10:33   #3
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Very relevant topic and unfortunately this has a negative vibe to it.

I always personally believe the noisy pedal is the easier way to get out of sticky situations especially during overtaking. I make sure I'm in the lowest gear which gives me the meat of the torque band of the car during overtaking maneuvers and be on the wrong side for the least possible time.

To add to this, I've noticed that one has the least incidents on the highway in India if they drive slightly above the average speed of vehicles around you. There will be less people bullying you and trying to pass you which would lead to a more stress free drive. However this does not mean driving at the ragged edge - drive at a comfortable speed that is slightly more than the folks around you.
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Old 27th July 2015, 10:45   #4
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Good input @Horizon81

@reigno.... No this is not advocating over speeding but just accelerating to safety.

Okay let's consider more likely situation.

Scenario : Changing lanes on the expressway

Driving on expressways is faster than normal. Everyone is at higher speeds though relative speed is not much different. Faster speed means earlier than normal anticipation while driving is required.
Changing lanes is unavoidable. This can be for reasons other than overtaking. Say, your exit is coming up soon. It is then advisable to change lanes towards the exit lane much before the exit itself. With you surrounded by equally high speed traffic it is likely that while you want to exit the next lane already has vehicles moving along.
In such case it is advisable to accelerate and move into the outer lane ahead of the vehicle. Braking or slowing down in a faster lane is to be avoided and it is likely to cause chain reaction braking behind you. Especially in dense rush hour traffic.
Do not brake heavily to let traffic in outer lane get ahead of you. Think through this changing lanes scenario and do this well ahead of your exit.

Not keeping only to an Indian context, I am using the terms outer, slower, faster etc. to be interpreted appropriately for right hand or left hand traffic.

More the speed and more the rush...more the anticipation needed for getting into appropriate lane.

Last edited by Rehaan : 28th July 2015 at 18:23. Reason: Few tweaks. Nice thread!
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Old 27th July 2015, 10:58   #5
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
I would like to present (and compile) scenarios where acceleration is safer option.
Fully agree, I use this both on the highway and in the city.

Any vehicle in motion has momentum, and this allows us to judge whether we brake in the hope of bleeding off all that momentum, or throttle up to give a bit of added momentum.

Here's my scenario: junctions - either signalled or not. I always slow a bit and shift down into the torquey part of the powerband, so that I can go either way - hit the brakes to avoid trouble or accelerate out of trouble.
  • I've found that in unsignalled junctions I (rightly) go in cautiously so I often end up braking to avoid problems.
  • On the other hand, in signalled junctions, the threat is often in the form of signal jumpers, and then its been 50-50 that I've accelerated out of it or braked to avoid it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by reignofchaos View Post
I've noticed that one has the least incidents on the highway in India if they drive slightly above the average speed of vehicles around you. There will be less people bullying you and trying to pass you which would lead to a more stress free drive.
I agree to this and often practice this also. I term it 'keeping ahead of the idiots'.

Last edited by arunphilip : 27th July 2015 at 10:59.
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Old 27th July 2015, 11:57   #6
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Good line of thought and something that I consider in conjunction with an objective to use open spaces, especially in highways. It is a technique in which one is on the lookout to accelerate judiciously to break away from a number of vehicles clustering together and into a relatively open stretch of the road, thus 'cocooning' oneself with some open space around. This demands downshifting at times, a quick burst of speed and then settling down into a reasonable tempo again.

Goes without saying that this is in equal measure, a safety manoeuvre and requires experience and practice
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Old 27th July 2015, 12:29   #7
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

A scenario on a multi-lane road (expressway, for instance), where acceleration is a life saver.

You are driving a car - say, B-segment hatch - and overtaking a truck on an expressway. You are doing 100kmph steady in the right lane, truck doing 60kmph steady in the left lane. Just as you reach the truck's blind spot - which is usually just behind the driver's cab, you notice him drifting towards the right, with his right indicator on.

I have found that it is better to honk hard and accelerate hard at this point - because you are closer to the front of the truck, and hence will get away from the place he wants to be in - the right lane - much faster. Try slowing down/braking, and there is a very high risk of getting swiped by the back of the truck.
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Old 27th July 2015, 23:04   #8
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

What an apt thread. I can relate to this because I have used acceleration to pull out of a sticky situation.

I was driving from Dehradun to Delhi by the traditional Roorkee - Muzaffarnagar - Meerut route. Somewhere after Muzaffarnagar, where the road is four-laned , I honked and flashed to ask a truck (which was clipping at nearly 70 in the rightmost lane) but the guy just won't let me overtake from the right. So I came to the left and rear of the truck, honked a few times and flashed my lights to make sure that he saw me. After some honking/ flashing lights I presumed that he had seen me. One indication of this was that his cleaner / co driver stuck his head out of his window and most definitely saw me.

Satisfied that I had been seen by the truck driver in front, and that he knew that I was preparing to overtake him from the left, I honked again and accelerated, starting to overtake the truck from the left. I had all but cleared the length of the truck when all of a sudden the driver swung the truck to the left. The front bumper of the truck came in contact with the Zen' rear right and started pushing the rear of the car to the left. In a split second , I downshifted and floored the pedal, quickly accelerating and rapidly putting precious distance between the car and the truck. I drove for a kilometer or so and then pulled up. The car had a nasty dent on the rear right. The truck soon overtook us, doing speeds well over ninety by now. I tried to flag him down, but he didn't stop.

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Looking back, at that juncture had I not accelerated and resorted to braking, maybe the truck would've pushed me into an uncontrollable spin, which could've led to an accident. A situation like this demands acceleration IMO.
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Old 27th July 2015, 23:29   #9
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Case in point. Have power on demand at your disposal. One can reduce speed by braking, but not accelerate as quickly. Quick acceleration helps get out of trouble many times. I vouch for that.
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Old 28th July 2015, 07:14   #10
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

I think the basic methods of controlling a car, i.e brake, clutch & accelerator will be incomplete without the primary aspect - the steering. Only when combined with the proper ability to judge & steer will the pedal inputs have an edge.

A common scenario in India is the "driver" from the opposite lane who will suddenly come into your lane and increase speed while at it without changing his direction even a bit, depending on scenario & if your left side is clear one of the things to do would be to accelerate & quickly steer left. While I think using the accelerator is essential in certain situations, one being when an ambulance with beacon is tearing up the road.. our only option would be to speed up as sanely as possible until we can give it room to pass. In highways too short bursts of speed would help to survive the huge trucks and buses when overtaking them IF the overtaking is necessary. Again it depends largely on each unique scenario determined by the surrounding objects, as long as one judges the scenario quickly and takes measures to avoid/lessen damage using any or all of the controls are justified. Accelerator or speeding up during safety manoeuvres must be limited to one's experience otherwise a bigger incident might happen. I agree that one should keep a power reserve at all gears so that the car is in complete control.

Last edited by dark.knight : 28th July 2015 at 07:15.
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Old 28th July 2015, 07:45   #11
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

@dark.knight : It is by no means suggested that accelerator is one and only solution. I started this thread just to raise awareness that in certain situation this is the "tool" for better safety.

A couple of years back I went Jaipur to Bikaner with a friend who has been driving for over two decades. Lot of that driving has been long distance drives.

I was observing his drive style of slowing down substantially (drop down to 80~90 from 110~120) when approaching a high speed curve. After a while I told him to ever so slightly accelerate through the curve while maintaining speed. He tried this a few times and agreed that yes he felt more confident and in control when he took curves this way. I can cite many such interactions.

Point being that many people do not realize that safe driving also involves use of accelerator to keep better control on the vehicle. PLUS driving is not only about whats in front but also whats behind you. You have to be also safe from guys behind you!
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Old 28th July 2015, 08:12   #12
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Of course, I did agree that going a bit faster during certain situations surely would help in keeping safe. Nowhere is this as important or applicable than in India - many times in a T- junction just when we are given the green light a public bus would come in top speed from the opposite direction on a red and simply wont stop, sometimes braking hard during this event will invite a rear-ending. Our only option is to make sure we're as far away from the bus as possible and speed up before it engulfs the whole lane.

You'd mentioned about keeping the rear safe, I thought I was one of the few who did that everyday, even my training instructor had said "don't bother about the rear, only look front the rear takes care of itself". I didn't agree with him then & I certainly don't now. Many times my constant checking of the side & centre mirrors have helped me judge a rash driver & either speed up or give room to be overtaken. I merely added a point that good judgement & firm control of the steering wheel is also required, then either acceleration or braking can be used as per requirement.. anything for safety.
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Old 28th July 2015, 08:43   #13
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Absolutely. Remember glancing at your rear-view mirror while you brake hard enough. Once managed to get away by just losing a turn indicator instead of losing my rear hatch door, or probably even the rear windshield. Also, the biker behind me was without a helmet, and so I sure saved his head!

Last edited by Unavowed_X9 : 28th July 2015 at 08:47.
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Old 28th July 2015, 17:56   #14
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

I support your views in using accelerator as a tool in controlling the vehicle in the following context.If it is a petrol car, well, you can use the engine braking very effectively. Once you lift your right foot off the pedal, car will decelerate immediately. In the case of a diesel car, you cannot use this as effectively.
Your points regarding to the overturning are true, but to be practised cautiously.
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Old 28th July 2015, 18:27   #15
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Default re: Safe Driving: Using the Accelerator

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
In such case it is advisable to accelerate and move into the outer lane ahead of the vehicle. Braking or slowing down in a faster lane is to be avoided and it is likely to cause chain reaction braking behind you. Especially in dense rush hour traffic.
Very interesting point!

This can set off "traffic waves" where the chain reaction of braking actually creates a bit of a traffic-jam, despite there being no obstruction on the road!

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Here's one thread discussing just this : link (Traffic Hacking : One driver improving traffic)

Last edited by Rehaan : 28th July 2015 at 18:30.
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