Progress at any Cost?

Discussion on Advanced and Defensive Driving. IAM, RoSPA/RoADA, High Performance Course. All associated training. Car training.

Postby Silk » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:07 pm


After a break of a few years, I've decided to go back to observing for my local group.

In that time, I've noticed a trend towards what I see as progress at any cost.

Although I agree that as advanced drivers, we should be taking opportunities to make progress, this does not have to come at the expense of smoothness and good driving manners - after all, it's not a race.

For example, you're in a 30 limit approaching a mini roundabout. One car is approaching from the left. If you put your foot down, you can make it in front of the car. Does it really do any harm to wait a few moments and move in behind?

Sometimes hanging back can be the better option. It gives you chance to take things in and make a better judgement. If you're turning left at a T-Juntion in a 30 limit and you have a blind bend on the road approaching from the right, it may be a better idea to wait until a car is approaching, so you can judge its speed and pull in front safely. If you pull into the empty road, you risk a collision someone approaching too fast who hasn't seen you.

Although the IAM base their advanced driving techniques on the the Police Driving Manual, Roadcraft, we're not chasing villains or racing to an incident.

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Postby 7db » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:49 pm


I've been playing with an idea recently on my commute which is the idea that I will make sure I "lose" any 50:50 confrontations (and indeed worse), so that I will actively yield road position or priority where there is a hint of conflict. This fits well with the sort of vehicle that I find in my area - white and van-like - he often likes to ensure he "wins" any 25:75 confrontations or better...

I make good relative progress by using my speed, position and forward planning to reduce the number of 50:50 confrontations. For example I might pass 19 cars by smart lane selection but decline 20 and 21 where others might assert their position further.

This is busy commuter roads in West London, and I'm seeking to make good progress within traffic, but above all to avoid swapping paint with anyone (or worse).
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Postby Silk » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:39 pm


Sometimes, it's just not worth the trouble. for what amounts to a fraction of a second.

Of course, that doesn't mean I don't agree that a good driver will drive at the maximum safe speed and take opportunities where they present themselves.
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Postby hir » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:50 pm


Silk wrote: If you're turning left at a T-Juntion in a 30 limit and you have a blind bend on the road approaching from the right, it may be a better idea to wait until a car is approaching, so you can judge its speed and pull in front safely.


I really don't understand this...wait until a car is approaching, so you can judge its speed and pull in front safely. How long are you going to wait? - minutes, hours, days?

Silk wrote:If you pull into the empty road, you risk a collision with someone approaching too fast who hasn't seen you.


This approach to dealing with this specific hazard is what I would probably regard as lack of progress. I don't think you can call... pulling out in to an empty road..., even if there is a "blind" bend to the right, "Progress at any cost". In this situation, if you have the concerns that you clearly have, I would suggest that you pull out slowly... "creep & peep", until you are certain that you can safely commit. If you're concerned about someone approaching too fast from the right then perhaps you should delay the "creep & peep" until there is a gap in traffic approaching from the left. This would give the "boy-racer" who suddenly appears coming round the bend too fast to stop, some space in which to escape and avoid hitting you.
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Postby Silk » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:27 pm


I really don't understand this...wait until a car is approaching, so you can judge its speed and pull in front safely. How long are you going to wait? - minutes, hours, days?


That's not really what I meant. Of course I'm not going to wait days. I'm just trying to point out that the urgency to take every opportunity is not always the best approach. In most situations, I would recommend a slower approach in order to take in all the information before joining the main road. When this is of no benefit, then pausing to take in more information could be appropriate. Judging the speed of a car we can see is much easier than one we can't.

Just because I question the approach to progress doesn't mean I don't agree with making good progress, just as I don't agree that using occasional appropriate restraint is necessarily the mark of a bad driver.

This approach to dealing with this specific hazard is what I would probably regard as lack of progress. I don't think you can call... pulling out in to an empty road..., even if there is a "blind" bend to the right, "Progress at any cost". In this situation, if you have the concerns that you clearly have, I would suggest that you pull out slowly... "creep & peep", until you are certain that you can safely commit. If you're concerned about someone approaching too fast from the right then perhaps you should delay the "creep & peep" until there is a gap in traffic approaching from the left. This would give the "boy-racer" who suddenly appears coming round the bend too fast to stop, some space in which to escape and avoid hitting you.


You could also argue that "creep & peep" is lack of progress. All I'm talking about is taking advantage of a situation should it arise. A few seconds is all it takes. It doesn't take long to judge the weight of traffic. If it's reasonable heavy, then I would consider the option of using an oncoming car as a "shield". If the road was NSL, then this approach would probably not work.
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Postby GJD » Wed Apr 18, 2012 12:54 pm


I'd be surprised if the intent was really progress at the expense of smoothness or manners. Thinking about 7db's example, I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with asserting your priority, but if you feel doing so might provoke confrontation you might decide not to bother. I think what's most important is to be decisive. If you're going to assert, assert strongly. If you're going to concede, concede obviously.

I wonder if the roundabout example is more a question of planning. One of the sub-optimal things that can happen approaching a roundabout is that the driver's arrival coincides with traffic on the roundabout and they have to wait, when they actually had the opportunity to time their arrival to coincide with a gap in the traffic. To me though, that would be sub-optimal planning, not sub-optimal progress. The opportunity might have been to arrive at the roundabout sooner (i.e. ahead of the traffic that the driver had to wait for) or later (behind the traffic) or both (i.e. there was a gap ahead and a gap behind). If it's both, and progress is your goal in the way it would be on an IAM test, then arguably sooner (arriving ahead of the traffic) is better progress. But I wouldn't call that progress at any cost, I'd call it progress as a result of good planning.
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Postby YorkshireJumbo » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:20 pm


Whilst I enjoy making progress, it can often be meaningless and/or costly. I used to commute 60 miles up the A1 to Darlington: it was an old dual carriageway with 2 lanes either side and it was busy. I started by trying to minimise my travelling time, and would overtake where possible and it would take 55 minutes at 45mpg. Then I started being more relaxed and not overtaking at any opportunity: time 58-60 minutes and 55-60 mpg. And I would also arrive more relaxed. So for the cost of 3-5 minutes each way, I was saving myself £5-ish in fuel per week and was less stressed.

Then they put in the roadworks with 50mph average speed cameras - my time increased to 65-67 minutes and 75mpg. Another £3 a week saved and 5-10 minutes extra on my journey.

As I didn't "do" anything with the time I gained by my initial driving style, I saved myself £250-400 per annum by not trying to make progress :wink:
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Postby ROG » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:58 am


Silk wrote: If you're turning left at a T-Juntion in a 30 limit and you have a blind bend on the road approaching from the right, it may be a better idea to wait until a car is approaching, so you can judge its speed and pull in front safely. If you pull into the empty road, you risk a collision someone approaching too fast who hasn't seen you.

EH!!

Best advice is to turn left when clear and then briskly get up to safe speed

If an empty road with good vision each way and nowt there then use eco driving to save fuel which will be slower than the former
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Postby Kevin » Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:34 am


ROG wrote:If an empty road with good vision each way and nowt there then use eco driving to save fuel which will be slower than the former


Hi ROG. Is it more economical to accelerate briskly to your intended cruising speed, rather than to accelerate more slowly, thereby spending more time and distance in a lower gear? I'm not saying what you've said is wrong, just that I've heard the oposite stated as being the most economical way to drive. I think, dare I mention them, the IAM has suggested brisk acceleration up to your cruising speed is the most economical way to drive. Has there been any studies that have concluded taking longer to reach your cruising speed improves economy or vice versa?
Last edited by Kevin on Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ScoobyChris » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:08 am


I wonder if the chosen cruising speed has a more pronounced effect on economy, rather than how you get there? That and avoiding using the brakes :D

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Postby Kevin » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:40 pm


ScoobyChris wrote:I wonder if the chosen cruising speed has a more pronounced effect on economy, rather than how you get there? That and avoiding using the brakes :D

Chris


I've no doubt it does. But, whatever your chosen cruising speed may be, what's the most economical way to arrive at it? :D
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Postby Gareth » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:04 pm


Kevin wrote:whatever your chosen cruising speed may be, what's the most economical way to arrive at it? :D

I imagine slowly, but that increases journey time.

If journey time needs to be constant, I'd go for rapid acceleration to a lower cruising speed in favour of slower acceleration to a higher cruising speed, not least because in general maintaining a higher speed seems to take more energy.
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Postby martine » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:28 pm


Lets not forget that those preparing for an Advanced Test need to be able to demonstrate safe, good progress. Whether you drive like this all the time is entirely up to you. That said, I don't think any examiner would worry about a candidate approaching a hazard too slowly as long as they get briskly up to the speed limit after the hazard (and if appropriate of course).

I can see repeated hesitation might be an issue but I don't believe that's the OP's main point.
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Postby Kevin » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:34 pm


Gareth wrote:
Kevin wrote:whatever your chosen cruising speed may be, what's the most economical way to arrive at it? :D

I imagine slowly, but that increases journey time.

If journey time needs to be constant, I'd go for rapid acceleration to a lower cruising speed in favour of slower acceleration to a higher cruising speed, not least because in general maintaining a higher speed seems to take more energy.


Let me put it another way. I am on a long stretch of road that I would like to drive along at 60mph (I'm not really, I'm sitting in an office typing this up, but for the sake of arguement). I am currently stationary (that is actually true in reality :) ). Do I accelerate briskly, using the engine's optimum performance, and arrive at 60mph in the shortest possible time and distance and therefore acheive top gear quickly or do I accelerate gently, thereby travelling for a greater distance in lower gears for a longer time before achieving 60mph and top gear, in order to obtain the best economy?

I would think the first example would be the most economic, but I'm not clever enough to do the calculations. Has anyone done the maths and come up with an answer? If they have, please show your workings. :)
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Postby Kevin » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:43 pm


martine wrote:Lets not forget that those preparing for an Advanced Test need to be able to demonstrate safe, good progress. Whether you drive like this all the time is entirely up to you. That said, I don't think any examiner would worry about a candidate approaching a hazard too slowly as long as they get briskly up to the speed limit after the hazard (and if appropriate of course).

I can see repeated hesitation might be an issue but I don't believe that's the OP's main point.


Topper's book Very Advanced Driving has some interesting ideas about making progress, some of which I wouldn't think are really acceptable. One in particular has the 'very advanced driver' apparenly squeezing up the right-hand side of a car waiting at a roundabout and then slotting in behind a car on the roundabout ahead of the car waiting. A bit extreme and I'm not sure, even if I wanted to drive like that, such an opportunity would often present itself. I would say this goes beyond safe, good progress.
Last edited by Kevin on Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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