How to Drive Around Curves

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Navigating around a curve in a fast-moving car is a skill that can take some time to master, but with a little practice anyone can do it. Following a few simple steps can help keep you safe on wet or dry roads. It can help to understand the physics of how a car moves around the curve. The momentum of the car is moving forward. Turning the tires causes force from friction between the tires and the road to turn the car around the road.

  • Slow down before approaching the curve. This is the most important aspect of safely navigating a curve. Attempting the maneuver at too great a speed can cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Applying the brakes while in the curve can also cause you to lose control. The proper speed depends on the road conditions, quality and condition of your tires and the radius of the curve.

  • Follow the straightest line possible. As you approach the curve, move to the side of your lane opposite the direction of the curve, then head toward the opposite side of the lane at the middle of the curve. Finally, exit the curve back to the other side of the lane. For example, if the curve turns to the right, start at the left of your lane, head toward the right side as you pass the center of the curve and back to the left as you exit the curve. This may seem counterintuitive, like you are swerving, but by doing so you are actually turning a larger radius arc, so it requires less force and results in a smoother turn.

  • Accelerate out of the curve. Once you begin to exit the curve and your wheels are mostly straight, you can apply more acceleration. Accelerating too early can cause the tires to slip, especially in a rear-wheel drive vehicle.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not brake on the curve, as this can cause you to spin out. Front-wheel drive vehicles will be less likely to spin out, as they are pulled through the curve rather than pushed. Turning too sharply can cause the tires to slide reducing the force of friction and causing the car to spin out.
  • Always slow down on wet or icy roads. Do not attempt to drive faster than the road will allow.

References

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