It is every car enthusiasts dream to be able to take a day off of their busy week and just drive up their favorite mountain road with their favorite vehicle. It’s a kind of escape that many would like to take, especially if one has been spending most of their driving hours in traffic.
For most drivers, mastering the act of taking corners safely and properly can be daunting. There are many techniques that can only be learned through experience and learning from other drivers. There are also many variables when driving on twisty roads, and all of them can greatly affect driver confidence, vehicle grip, and whether or not we endanger the lives of our passengers and other road users.
As an avid motorcyclist and automobile lover, each ride or drive to get away from the city is a chance to practice what I’ve learned, and while the transportation method may be different, the premise is almost always the same: smooth is fast.
Below, we list down some tips to safely traverse twisty roads. Hopefully it helps make your road trips to the south or north of the metro every bit safer.
1. Always follow signs and road markings
Always make sure to keep an eye out for road signs that point out potential dangers or upcoming areas that should be traversed with caution. Lane markings must always be followed as they will determine areas where overtaking will be safe. Sharp corners and slippery areas will also be pointed out so keep scanning as you drive.
This is all especially important if you are unfamiliar with the road, and you should always err on the side of caution.
2. Maximize your own lane
The only time you should be using even an inch of the opposite lane is when you’re overtaking or avoiding a road hazard. One should never eat up even a tiny part of the the oncoming lane because it creates an opportunity for an accident, especially around corners. If you can’t hold your lane around a corner, maybe you shouldn’t be driving, as knowing how to turn the wheel is pretty basic.
3. Avoid distractions
Make sure to take frequent breaks on long trips with winding roads. Fill up your tummy and hydrate yourself to keep your mind and body alert. A toilet stop never hurt anyone, and can save hours of discomfort down the road. Also, make sure your passengers are aware that concentration is needed when driving, and keep all gadgets away to prevent the temptation to check that text message or answer a call. If it really can’t wait, pull over safely to a clear spot.
4. Brake before turning
Make sure to do most of your braking in a straight line leading up to the corner. Release the brakes and turn in smoothly into the corner. Accelerate smoothly to maintain momentum. Keep speeds tolerable and within your limits and the limits of the road. This makes sure that the vehicle’s weight isn’t shifting around and upsetting how it handles in the corner. Your passengers will also thank you for it, as their heads won’t be flying about and their shoulders won’t be pressing on their seatmate.
5. Never go down a hill faster than you can go up it
When going down a hill, never ride the brakes. Switch to a lower gear or L/S after braking, then let the engine do all the slowing down and speed management for you. Don’t be afraid of the tachometer or engine revs staying up, the engine is working perfectly fine despite the noise.
Nothing’s worse than having the brakes suddenly fade away since you’ve been riding them downhill for the past five kilometers.
6. Going up? Go down a gear
Shift to a lower gear when going uphill to maintain momentum and get the right amount of torque from the vehicle. When the roads start to get a bit tighter and the angles are steeper, make sure to switch to a lower gear way early to prevent stalling or chugging up a hill.
7. Be courteous
If you notice that you’re holding up faster vehicles, wave them by on a safe bit of road, or pull over safely. Also remember that the vehicle going uphill has the right of way, as engine power and momentum are affected greatly by an uphill battle.