To negotiate a curve, you must be aware that you can lose traction and begin to slide. The difficulty with commercial and other top-heavy vehicles is the possibility of rolling over… Yes, that’s why you need to be a bit cautious.
The reason why hairpin bends are so called is because their inner angle is acute meaning you have to turn about 180o. A series of hairpin bends is known as a switchback. You’ll often see a caution sign with a picture that looks like a black snake on a field of yellow to warn you its coming.
But why are there hairpin bends on roads? For one thing it’s easier and cheaper to build following the topography of the land instead of a tunnel. As a bonus the bends cause people to slow down instead of making a direct route that could be dangerous.
Famous examples of hairpin bends include Vermont Street and Lombard Street. Both involve a deep curve to negotiate.
Some curves have been christened “Dead Man’s Curves” most notably the one-off Sunset Boulevard. This is the one that was featured in the song by Jan & Dean, a Californian rock group.
Should you be negotiating a curve using a motorcycle, you should be especially be aware of hazards when driving to the left. An article published by the Institute of Advanced Motorists in 2012 would suggest a blind spot, where you tend to notice hazards more when driving to the right.
Is the road correctly maintained?
If the road has potholes the curve become more dangerous. Beware too, a lack of warning signs. For this reason, road repairs should be dealt with quickly. Without the warning, traffic is less likely to take evasive action.
It’s important to take the foot off the gas pedal and the brake. Keep both your hands on the steering wheel, don’t make sudden motions. Only apply the brake when it is time to do so and when it is, don’t apply it too strongly.
To help you the traffic safety people add turn arrow signs or “chevrons” just beyond each severe curve. To avoid swerving, it is vital to keep to the speed limit or just below it. A word of warning: Don’t turn the steering wheel too far when you adjust the speed otherwise you may lose control of the vehicle as discussed above.
The rule of thumb is to break going into the curve and give it a little gas coming out of the curve. With a front wheel drive car this will actually pull you into the curve.
It’s hard to regain control if the vehicle skids as the steering wheel doesn’t work as normal. Fortunately, you will be able to cope after a bit of practice.
So it’s a turn of the wheel but not by much; if it’s the curve is to the left move slightly to the left. You should pay attention and don’t attempt to change lanes. If you make a “wide” turn this could put you in danger with cars heading in the opposite direction.
It’s possible that you might start to worry you are traveling too slowly, but you shouldn’t as all vehicles are different. If there are any other vehicles nearby make sure they have enough space so that they can negotiate the curves too.
Once you have dealt with the curve you should be able to accelerate, making sure there isn’t another curve just on the horizon.
Once you have experienced enough curves coping with them becomes second nature, which is just as well.