Everyone forgets that the size of a car determines how you handle it on the road. In fact, the type of road you are driving on also determines how you can handle cars based on their sizes and ride height. If you are having issues handling your car, then you are not doing something right. Funny enough, this crucial topic is probably one of the most ignored aspects of safe driving in Nigeria and even all over the world. But you can always trust us, we have dedicated this article to specifically reveal some helpful tips to help you learn the best driving behaviours for different types of cars.
Happens when you don't handle your car properly
While I was undergoing my internship at an automobile repair facility in the Ikoyi area of Lagos, I almost lost my 3 months salary to a mistake I made while test driving a car after repairs. It was a 2012 Toyota Coaster bus with a 5-speed manual transmission parked in a non-visible corner from the workshop manager's office. I forgot that this bus was 250 inches long which is almost times two of an average car.
I threw the car in reverse gear and turned my steering all the way to the right. Music of course is one of the greatest distractions while driving. A small doctor hit single I was listening to and I accelerated the car backwards only to pin the edge of the hall very hard and damaged the end rear left side of the Van. It smashed the wall really bad and tears started rolling down my eyes.
This is what a Coaster Bus looks like
The size of a car determines how you handle and drive a car. So, before we even talk about choosing the best behaviours, let us first talk about the different sizes of a car.
What are the different sizes of automobiles?
We have the size classification of automobiles ranging from Class 1 to 13. The sizes of cars vary according to the purpose for which the automobile is built. Below is a table and diagram that shows this classification and I am sure you can relate to all of it.
Size Chart for vehicles
To make this easy for you, I will divide the classification of vehicle sizes into 6 major categories which I will talk about today.
For each category, I will tell you how they are meant to be handled and driven on two types of roads; the smooth road (normal condition) and on bad roads (abnormal condition)
1. Regular Cars
Regular cars in this case would be cars that have a regular ride height whether 2 or 4 doors.
This is a regular size Car
Regular car is any car that is a Sedan, Coupe, Crossover SUVs, Sports cars, Hatchbacks, Sportbacks, Stationwagons and Compact cars.
On Smooth Road
cars can be driven with ease at any speed below 120km/hr as long as the road is smooth but you must slow down up to 50km/hr when you are driving around a bend except it is a sports car that is built for taking on corners at speeds up to 100 km/hr.
To be safe really, do not enter corners at speeds greater than 50 km/hr. When you are driving regular cars at speeds over 120km/hr, there is a probability that the car would start bouncing off the road especially when the road is not evenly flat which is the case of most express roads in Nigeria. Also, when you are speeding in regular cars it is best to reduce your speed when you want to swap lanes. Only sports and performance cars can take sharp turns at high speed and it is also very unsafe to other road users.
On Rough roads
Regular cars should not be moving at speeds more than 25km/hr on rough roads because their suspension is not built for off-road driving.
These cars need to be driven gently on rough roads
The suspension of these cars cannot handle the feedback from rough roads so they make the driver and passengers uncomfortable and it can also make the car easily bounce off the road and tumble.
2. SUVs and Light Trucks
SUV means Sport Utility Vehicles and this means the vehicle is designed to have the space and size of a Pickup truck but can carry passengers normally and is very comforting to passengers while light trucks are pick-up trucks with space for passengers and a flatbed for luggage behind.
On Smooth Roads
Every Nigerian Government convoy that has Toyota Prados, Land Cruisers and Hiluxes do not g beyond 100km/hr even when though it seems like they are always driving fast. You know speed is relative? that moment you are waiting for them to pass it seems like they are speeding at over 200km/hr because you are not moving. SUVs and Light Trucks are built as body-on-frame which means they shouldn't be driven at high speeds on smooth roads because they can easily get unstable and rollover.
Rolling over is a common bad habit of SUVs
Also, these cars should never be driven at speeds above 35km/hr in corners because the centre of gravity unlike regular cars would easily make them roll over at a curved road. Do not ever enter a corner speeding while driving an SUV...never.
On Rough Roads
On rough roads, SUVs and Light Trucks can be driven faster than regular cars because they have longer suspensions and a bigger wheelbase which is for the sole purpose of going off-road.
A Ford Truck on a rough road
When handling these bigger cars on rough roads you just have to control your speed according to the roughness of the road.
3. Long Vehicles and Vans
Long Vehicles and Vans include buses, vans, trailers and heavy-duty trucks like petrol tankers.
On Smooth Roads
When driving heavy trucks and vans, because they are long and heavy it is best to move really slow. You must never forget that you are driving a Long vehicle when you want to make any turn or switch lanes. You just don't switch lanes, you make sure road users know what you are about to do and you have to do it slowly.
Long Vehicles require a lot of patience
That is why most of these heavy trucks have a navigator that helps flag down on-coming vehicles when it is time to switch lanes. Also, when turning in heavy trucks and vans, you must come to a complete halt before making any major turn and in corners, you must always drive below 20 km/hr to avoid any accident.
On Rough Roads
You have to apply the same principles from the smooth road on rough roads for vans and heavy trucks. You just have to go slow and turn after you get to a complete stop. Also, heavy trucks are hard to stop when moving fast which is another reason why you have to drive slowly.
4. Bodyless Vehicles
Bodyless vehicles are the type of vehicles that are very small and exposes the driver/rider's body. A good example is a motorcycle or a tricycle.
Bike riders can be so careless
On smooth or rough roads, you have to just drive while being very vigilant because your body is exposed and they are really light-weighted. Even though some motorcycles have a lot of power and move fast, they are still exposed I mean. Your body is the body of your motorcycle. You have to program your brain to just be more in control because one collision/hit would send you straight off the road.
Now that you know how to condition yourself to different behaviours when driving different cars, we are sure you will be a better driver now. You should never be confused anymore about choosing the best driving behaviour for different types of cars. And having said that, you should check out our website Naijauto.com every day for more tips and advice on anything car related in Nigeria.
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