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How much distance should you maintain from another vehicle on road?

How much distance should you maintain between another vehicle on the road and your car, bike or scooter?

 It is important to understand the right distance to be maintained between your and another vehicle while on road. The distance is to be calculated on two parameters:

  1. TD – Thinking distance: In a real life situation if you are travelling at a speed of 60 KMPH, and it takes you a second to react to an emergency situation and by then you would have travelled another 18 to 20 meters since the moment you thought of applying the brakes. So you need to know your TD. It is approximately 18 to 20 meters at a speed of 60 KMPH and can vary as per individuals. It can reduce to 10 meters if you are going at speeds of less than 40 KMPH.
  2. BD – Braking distance: The distance you cover between the points when you first applied the brakes to when your scooter or bike actually reaches a speed of 0 to 5 KMPH is your Braking Distance.

Adding your BD and TD, you can figure out the distance that is required to be maintain between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.

As a thumb rule, the required safe distance for speeds upto 60 KMPH is the speed at which you are riding in meters divided by 1000, plus 10. So, if you are driving at 60 KMPH, keep a distance of atleast 70 meters. Even at speeds lower than 20 KMPH, it is necessary to keep the total distance of minimum 20 meters.

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How to avoid skidding while riding a scooter or a bike?

How to avoid skidding while riding a scooter or a bike?

Every rider’s worst fear is to get into a situation where the bike or the scooter skids out of control and can cause serious damage to the rider and the vehicle.

Let’s first try to understand why tyres skid. Following are two scenarios which can result in skidding:

  1. When you’re riding on a road, you may be faced with a change in what covers the road surface. It could be an oil slick, or rain water or just gravel or mud. What happens in this scenario is that the friction between a road surface and the tyres changes – in fact you lose friction, this loss of friction creates a situation where the bike starts gliding over that surface – Loss of friction equals loss of control on steering the bike or scooter.
  2. You could be riding on a regular road surface and an object or person appears suddenly ahead of you and you apply the brakes hard, causing the wheels to lock. When the wheels lock the rotating velocity of the tyres lowers and as per the laws of physics, the steering of the bike is compromised.

In both the cases loss of steering capabilities causes a dangerous situation.

How to avoid skidding? There are two ways- Caution & Action

Caution:

  • Check for squealing noises from your brake pads – if every time you press the brakes, there’s a squealing noise, it means the brake pads need to be cleaned or changed.
  • Check the tread depth of your tyres, as tyres loose tread depth, the braking capabilities get lower – a smooth or bald tyre, even if it is in patches is a potential danger.
  • When you are riding be aware of the road surface and the traffic and pedestrians around you.
  • If you can see that the road is wet or there’s an oil patch, or gravel, BE AWARE.

Action:

  • Once you are aware -you need to understand that instant hard braking can lock the wheels. You have to avoid the wheels from locking.
  • Just apply pressure on the front brakes mildly. Imagine you are pressing the front brake lever just enough to feel the brakes getting into action.
  • If you are facing a higher level of emergency – apply pressure on the rear brakes intermittently and release, repeat this apply-release action few times. This gives both the wheels a chance to keep rotating and not locking up.

In fact ABS (Antilock Braking System) works on a similar principle, they do not allow the brakes to lock the wheels by constantly monitoring the wheel rotation through computers and providing pressure in different degrees to keep them from locking up.

By applying light pressure on front brakes and intermittent pressure on rear brakes just enough so that by the time you approach the trouble spot, you have slowed your speed to levels which are manageable.

Most of the times this is enough to allow you to pass the obstacle without causing any emergency.

In a nutshell these are 4 simple tips to avoid skids:

  1. Check for wear and tear, ageing of brake pads and tyres
  2. Be aware of what’s around you and on the road surface – driving slow and with caution is a virtue
  3. Apply light pressure on front brakes to reduce speed when approaching any turns or curves on the road (Remember start applying brakes when approaching the turn or a bad spot , not after entering it – because by then it is too late)
  4. Apply intermittent pressure on the rear brakes for quicker stops

These points do not guarantee that your bike will not skid, however there is a better chance of you surviving a skid if you follow these tips.

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