Advanced Driving Solutions
By Andy Levesque
Do any of my readers speed? If you said no, you are a perfectly tuned machine, borderline hypocritical (just kidding). Every driver speeds at one point or another. Is 26 faster than 25? Is 36 more than 35? Even as a technicality, any measurement over the posted speed sign is unlawful. Period! My students learn that immediately. Speed matters when driving. It matters because of the vehicle dynamics and handling. It matters for steering input and braking properly. Speed matters. If the driver gives the control to the machine, the laws of physics will prevail and the vehicle will be out of the control of the driver. Speed control is essential to safe driving. Speed control assists in risk management. It matters. Let’s talk about speed.
Speed is a unit of measure. It is a measurement of the distance traveled over a period of time. Speed is measured in miles per hour (mph). This measurement is grand. Simply, how many miles can you drive in an hour’s time. It is a long distance over a long period of time. Speed.
I prefer to instruct a similar unit of measure with my students. This measurement is Velocity. Velocity is the measurement of time over distance, similar to Speed. But instead of a long distance divided by a long period of time, it is measured in feet per second. It is a shorter distanced divided by a shorter period of time (more realistic).
Realistically, people and vehicles move in feet per second. For example, an average walking pedestrian velocity is +/- 4 to 5 feet per second. A bicycle can sustain balance at about +/- 6 to 8 feet per second. A vehicle traveling at 25 miles per hour is actually traveling at 36.65 feet per second. Miles per hour = long distance over a long period of time. Feet per second = short distance over a short amount of time. So much can be shared about speed, perhaps another time on the dynamics of speed/velocity.
Understand that the driver has to develop proper skills to control the vehicle whether or not the vehicle is a high speed or slow speed. If you lose control of the vehicle, you are going too fast; too fast for road conditions, too fast for your abilities and too fast for the vehicle dynamics. I ask my students, “How fast can you drive?” You should see the deceitful smirks on their faces. I wait for the answer. With silence, I repeat the question. I often get high speeds thinking their ability and skill level can
match. It is a trick question (I love those). So what is the answer? “You can only drive as fast as you are able to stop!”
Drive safe, drive smart! It’s all about your attitude!