Tim’s Tips

Tims tipsLinkages of controls.

I have been re-reading the 1974 impression of Roadcraft. There is much to be found in these old motoring books. One section I like (which has subsequently been dropped) is entitled ‘Linkages of Controls’. It is introduced with the following statement (pages 8 and 9):

‘Drivers already know the following controls, but they should always consider them in combinations of two.’

It then lists (and I paraphrase):

  • ‘Driving mirror and signals – checking the mirrors before signalling (including the horn) helps us to ensure we give a signal if necessary and give it in good time. (In my view horn warnings are often given much too late. Unless there is time to see evidence of reaction to the horn note, I wonder if there is any point in sounding it.)
  • Driving mirror and brakes – allows us to gauge the proximity of following traffic. (In my experience this use of the mirror is often overlooked.)
  • Brakes and steering – this reminds the driver that steering is not improved by braking. Brake before a corner while travelling in a straight line (or nearly so). If by misjudgment you need to brake again, do so with great discretion, otherwise the car will slide bodily.
  • Steering and acceleration – this reminds the driver to place the car properly when starting from rest or accelerating carefully around a corner. These are the two controls used to make a car skid on a skid-pan.
  • Accelerator and gear lever – drivers should use successively rising gear ratios with firm depression of the accelerator in order to increase speed promptly, and lower ratio(s) with a relaxed accelerator to… reduce speed.
  • Gear lever and clutch – except for an occasional easing in heavy traffic, the clutch should only be used for moving off, changing gear and, in the last few yards, stopping.

I find that linking controls encourages a smoother drive because it encourages flow, and flow depends on good timing… which needs accurate planning.

Another link which I find useful is linking first gear with the nearside door mirror. When I engage first gear it is often because I intend to move off and, just before I do, it is usually appropriate to check all round starting with the nearside door mirror – the famous ‘three-mirror take-off’. The position of first gear is a physical reminder to look in that direction, towards the nearside mirror.

It is also good to link dipped headlights with the use of windscreen wipers. Can you think of any others??