Good driving requires discipline and responsibility, two of which are commonly neglected by many drivers on the road. From turn signals to misuse of the emergency lanes, driving in Malaysia is more or less a dogfight on tarmac that needs patience and a calm attitude to travel the distance. Although drivers should always put on a defensive when on the road, minor or major accidents happen on a daily basis with drivers not knowing the basics – obstacle avoidance, turning the steering wheel, emergency braking, oversteer, understeer and more.
At the recent BMW Driver Training Programme, certified expert driving instructors guided a group of participants for a day of driving exercises that allows drivers to master the challenges of everyday driving. Armed with a fleet of BMW 120i M Sport’s, the exercises for the day included proper steering methods, emergency braking, and avoidance.
BMW driving instructor KK Wong explaining the methods at theory class before the practice exercises.
Before we begin to delve deeper into the driving, here are six steps that every driver should take notice before starting the vehicle.
Instructor Chris Chong explaining the proper driving and seating position before heading out.
Step One – Height
Your seating position should allow you to see the car bonnet in front of you. The height positioning can be easily gauged by the space of four-fingers rested on your head vertically to the car roof.
Step Two – Leg
The position of your leg and foot should be able to fully depress the brake pedal. There should be a bend in your knee when the brake pedal is fully depressed, as this would allow more force to be applied when executing a full emergency stop.
Step Three – Seat
A proper seating position should be one that isn’t with too much incline. The car seat should fully support your upper body and back. Also remember to be seated fully in, where your posterior should be at the back of the seat.
Step Four – Steering Wheel
After seated at the proper position, stretching your arms out together, you should be able to rest your wrists on the top of the steering wheel with a slight bend in your elbows.
Step Five – Head Rest
The head rest supports your head and prevents a whiplash during a collision, should be positioned at the same level as your head.
Step Six – Seat Belt
Buckle up. Enough said.
Lets take a look at some videos of the exercises that happened at the BMW Driver Training Programme.
Left and Right Steer
Steering properly is key. No dish-washing, hamster wheeling, or cool kid rollin’ here.
Cross Arm Steering Technique
Notice the opposing arm reaching for the opposite end of the wheel as it is turned.
Slalom Practice Exercise
Left… right… left, right, left.
Evasive Lane Change Braking
It might seem easy, but this was one of the most difficult exercises for the day.
Quick steering movements is needed for this exercise. It’s a quick left, right and straightening of the car, then hard on the brakes.
Emergency Braking Avoidance
Travelling at over 60 km/h, then hard on the brakes.
One of the most important points to emergency braking is the distance needed for the car to achieve a complete stop. When a car travels at 60 km/h and the driver slams hard on the brakes, it takes an approximate 12-metres from the point of braking, for the vehicle to come to a complete stop.
What is most interesting however, is the reaction time and distance travelled from before the brakes are depressed. Assuming the vehicle is travelling at 60 km/h, and that the driver requires 1-second to slam on the brakes, the vehicle would have continued to travel every 16.6 metres ahead for every 1-second reaction taken.
The best way to prevent understeer and go through a corner, is to enter at the right speed and take the car through smoothly.
Understeer happens when the front tires of the vehicle reaches the limit of grip. The car will then run wide at a corner. Understeer is the result of entering a corner too fast, braking into a corner, or accelerating through a corner.
By understanding why you’ve lost traction will help you correct it. For example, if you’ve entered too fast into a corner, lightly brake to reduce your speed. If you’re braking into a corner, the driver should reduce the braking force, which would allow steering input to return to the front wheels. If you’re accelerating through a corner and understeer, you should reduce the power and correct the steering angle.
Too much power and you will oversteer, especially in a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
Oversteer happens when the rear tyres of the vehicle reach the limit of its grip, causing the rear-end to swing out. Oversteer is the result of entering a corner too fast, accelerating too soon and braking into or half-way into a corner.
How to combat this, is to know that when the rear-end of the vehicle begins to come out, steer into the skid. As the back end starts to come around, quickly turn the wheel so the front tyres are pointing into the direction you want to travel. As the car begins to come back to place, straighten the wheel. The key for this is to always look into the direction you’re heading to.
Full Power with Counter Steer
Sliding with pure beauty and control.
What do you think? A big thanks to instructors KK Wong, Kenneth Chiew, Ching Eu Earn and Chris Chong for the dedication and expertise. But most of all, the key lesson in driving is to always be a defensive driver, use your turn signals when necessary, and allow room between yourself and the car in front of you. Also be considerate and remember that power is nothing without control.
Follow up with our experience with BMW’s Intensive Driving Training programme here.