Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving



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The road surface has a direct influence on a vehicle's handling characteristics.

The sub-sections below takes an in depth look at each of these factors:

? Questions:

💡 Tips:

🛈 Info:

Dangers Road Surface


Aside from the destructive nature of the accident itself, the aftermath also has potential to cause further carnage.


Following an accident, debris is likely to be strewn across the road, posing an additional danger to any approaching motorists.


After an accident, the vehicle/s involved could land up in the path of other vehicles, creating further destruction.


Gravel, because of its loose composition, makes for a surface lacking traction and prone to a vehicle losing control.


Holes in a road surface could cause havoc for any vehicles unfortunate enough to pass over it with a high probability of causing damage and the potential to inflict injury.


Markings on the road surface give a good indication of whether that section of road is a higher danger area.

  • Grooving - This signals a sharp incline in the road angle such that vehicles suspension 'bottoms out' and the sump digs a groove into the road surface.

  • Multiple skid marks:

  •       Curved - Indicates a deceptively sharp corner or curve in            the road.

  •       Longitudinal - Indicates an area where harsh braking is              needed for whatever reason.

  • Sand patches - Possibility that strong winds cross that section of road.

  • Flowing grit - Indicates that water washes across the road.


Where a road surface is uneven, it can radically alter a vehicle's path of travel.

For two-wheeled vehicles it presents even more of a peril, causing the vehicle to topple or lose balance.


Ice, depending on the angle of the surface, can cause vehicles to slide out of control, with no way of correcting or stopping the slide.

Black ice is even more dangerous as it is undetectable until too late.


Snow makes for slippery conditions and is likely to induce a vehicle into a slide as well as increasing the stopping distance.


Water will definitely have a negative impact on the handling characteristics of a vehicle and under certain conditions rendering the vehicle out of control.


The combination of water on road paint makes for an extremely slippery surface, especially for two-wheeled vehicles.


Where water gathers in pools, depending on the depth and distribution of the pool, can cause hydroplaning and/or inducing a spin to the vehicle.


A river can be deceptive to cross as even a seemingly innocuous stream can sweep a vehicle away.


Even a very thin film of water on a surface can drastically reduce the traction of a vehicle, placing it at risk.


When riding through a pool of water, the resulting spray onto the windscreen will blind the driver, even with wipers on. This puts the driver in a precarious position.

? What is the purpose of road surfacing?

The road surface is commonly referred to as pavement or road pavement. It is the uppermost layer or covering of a road that provides a smooth and durable surface for vehicles to travel on. 

The purpose of road surfacing is to provide a durable and smooth surface for vehicles to travel on. Road surfacing serves several important functions:

  • Smooth and Safe Travel: A properly surfaced road offers a smooth and even surface, allowing vehicles to travel safely and comfortably. It reduces the impact of bumps, potholes, and irregularities, providing a more enjoyable driving experience.

  • Traction and Skid Resistance: The surface texture and materials used in road surfacing play a crucial role in providing traction and skid resistance. This helps vehicles maintain control during braking or in adverse weather conditions, such as rain or snow.

  • Load Distribution: Road surfacing distributes the weight of vehicles evenly, preventing excessive wear and damage to the underlying layers of the road. It helps disperse the impact of heavy traffic and reduces the risk of structural failures.

  • Water Drainage: Proper road surfacing incorporates techniques and materials that facilitate efficient water drainage. This helps prevent the formation of puddles and reduces the risk of hydroplaning, improving safety during wet conditions.

  • Longevity and Durability: Road surfacing is designed to withstand heavy traffic, weathering, and the effects of aging. It protects the underlying layers of the road from deterioration and extends the lifespan of the road infrastructure.

  • Visibility and Road Markings: Road surfacing often includes painted road markings, such as lane lines, crosswalks, and symbols, which enhance visibility and provide guidance to drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Overall, road surfacing aims to create a safe, durable, and efficient transportation network that facilitates the movement of people and goods while minimizing maintenance requirements and maximizing the lifespan of the road infrastructure.

? What is used to surface roads?

Roads are typically surfaced using one of the following materials:

  • Asphalt: Asphalt is the most commonly used material for road surfacing. It consists of a mixture of aggregates (such as crushed stone, gravel, or sand) and asphalt binder. Asphalt offers a smooth, durable, and flexible surface that can withstand heavy traffic loads. It is also relatively quick and cost-effective to construct and repair.

  • Concrete: Concrete is another common material used for road surfacing, particularly for highways and high-traffic areas. Concrete consists of a mixture of cement, aggregates, water, and additives. Concrete provides a rigid and durable surface that can withstand heavy loads and offers a long lifespan. However, construction and repair of concrete roads can be more time-consuming and costly compared to asphalt.

  • Gravel: Gravel surfaces are typically used in rural or low-traffic areas. Gravel roads consist of a layer of compacted gravel or crushed stone. While gravel surfaces are less expensive and easier to maintain, they tend to be less smooth and can produce more dust and require more frequent maintenance compared to asphalt or concrete.

  • Other specialized surfaces: In certain situations or specific road requirements, specialized surfaces may be used. For example, cobblestone or brick surfaces are occasionally used in historical or aesthetic areas. Porous asphalt or permeable pavement may be used to promote water drainage and reduce runoff. Each of these specialized surfaces serves a specific purpose and is chosen based on factors such as aesthetics, traffic volume, environmental considerations, and local regulations.

The choice of road surfacing material depends on various factors, including traffic volume, climate, budget, and local regulations. The goal is to select the most suitable material that provides a safe, durable, and cost-effective solution for the specific road project.

What causes the corrugations on a dirt road?

The corrugations or washboard-like patterns often seen on dirt roads are typically caused by a combination of factors related to vehicle traffic, road surface conditions, and environmental factors. Here are some of the primary causes:

  • Repeated Traffic: The most common cause of corrugations on dirt roads is the repeated passage of vehicles, especially heavy vehicles like trucks or machinery. As vehicles drive over the road surface, their tires create ripples and indentations in the dirt, gradually forming the characteristic washboard pattern.

  • Speed and Vehicle Weight: Higher speeds and heavier vehicles exacerbate the formation of corrugations. Vehicles traveling at higher speeds or carrying heavy loads exert more force on the road surface, leading to greater displacement of soil particles and more pronounced corrugations.

  • Lack of Maintenance: Dirt roads that are not regularly graded or maintained are more prone to developing corrugations. Without proper maintenance, the road surface becomes uneven and rutted, making it easier for corrugations to form and persist.

  • Dry Conditions: Dry or arid climates can contribute to the formation of corrugations by drying out the road surface and making it more susceptible to erosion and displacement. In dry conditions, loose soil particles are more easily loosened and shifted by passing vehicles, leading to the development of corrugations.

  • Loose Surface Material: Dirt roads with loose or sandy surface material are particularly prone to developing corrugations. Loose soil particles are more easily displaced by vehicle traffic, creating a bumpy and uneven road surface over time.

  • Braking and Acceleration: Sudden braking or acceleration on dirt roads can also contribute to the formation of corrugations. Abrupt changes in speed cause the tires to dig into the road surface, creating ridges and troughs that eventually develop into corrugations.

Overall, corrugations on dirt roads are a natural consequence of vehicle traffic and environmental factors interacting with the road surface. Regular maintenance, proper driving techniques, and careful management of road conditions can help minimize the formation and severity of corrugations, ensuring smoother and safer travel for motorists.

💡 Tips for safe driving on various road surfaces

Here are some general tips for safe driving on various road surfaces:

Pavement Roads: 

  • Maintain a safe following distance to allow for proper braking and reaction time.

  • Watch out for potholes, cracks, or uneven surfaces that may affect vehicle stability.

  • Avoid sudden maneuvers or abrupt braking, especially on wet or slippery pavement.

  • Be mindful of painted road markings and reflectors, which may become slick when wet.

Gravel Roads:

  • Reduce your speed to maintain control and prevent skidding or sliding on loose gravel.

  • Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and avoid sudden steering inputs, as gravel can cause the vehicle to drift.

  • Use caution when braking, as gravel roads may have reduced traction compared to paved surfaces.

  • Watch out for washboard or rutted sections, which can affect vehicle stability and ride comfort.

Dirt Roads:

  • Drive at a safe speed that allows you to maintain control and react to obstacles or hazards on the road.

  • Be prepared for changes in road conditions, such as mud, sand, or loose soil, which can affect traction.

  • Use caution when cornering or braking, as dirt roads may lack the grip of paved surfaces.

  • Keep your headlights on, especially during low-light conditions, to improve visibility and alert other drivers to your presence.

Wet or Rainy Roads:

  • Slow down and increase your following distance to account for reduced traction and longer braking distances.

  • Avoid sudden maneuvers, such as sharp turns or rapid acceleration, which can lead to hydroplaning.

  • Turn on your headlights and use windshield wipers as needed to maintain visibility.

  • Watch out for standing water, which can conceal potholes or other hazards.

Snowy or Icy Roads:

  • Drive at a reduced speed and brake gently to avoid skidding on icy patches.

  • Use winter tires or tire chains for added traction in snowy or icy conditions.

  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles and be prepared for longer stopping distances.

  • Use low gears and avoid sudden acceleration or braking to maintain control on slippery surfaces.

Windy Roads:

  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel and maintain a firm grip to counteract gusts of wind.

  • Reduce your speed and use caution when passing or being passed by large vehicles, which can create wind turbulence.

  • Watch out for debris or obstacles that may have been blown onto the road by the wind.

  • Be prepared for sudden changes in wind direction or intensity, especially in open or exposed areas.

By following these tips and adjusting your driving behavior to suit the specific road surface and weather conditions, you can help ensure a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.

🛈 List of road surfaces from the least to the best traction

In terms of traction, here is a list of road surfaces from least traction to greatest traction:

  1. Gravel: Gravel surfaces, particularly those with loose or large particles, generally offer the least traction. The loose nature of gravel can make it challenging for vehicles to maintain good grip, especially during wet or icy conditions.

  2. Wet or Icy Asphalt: While asphalt is generally considered to provide good traction, it can become slippery when wet or icy. Water or ice on the surface reduces tire grip, making it more challenging for vehicles to maintain traction and control.

  3. Wet or Icy Concrete: Similar to asphalt, concrete surfaces can become slippery when wet or icy, reducing traction. However, compared to asphalt, concrete surfaces tend to have a slightly better grip in wet conditions due to their more textured surface.

  4. Dry Asphalt: Dry asphalt surfaces offer relatively good traction. The texture and composition of asphalt provide sufficient grip for tires to maintain traction, allowing for safe and controlled driving in normal conditions.

  5. Dry Concrete: Dry concrete surfaces generally offer the highest traction among common road surfaces. Concrete provides good grip due to its textured surface, allowing for confident and controlled driving.

It's important to note that environmental factors such as weather conditions, maintenance practices, and the presence of debris or oil on the road can significantly affect traction on any surface. Additionally, individual driving behavior, vehicle characteristics, and tire conditions also play a crucial role in determining the level of traction experienced by drivers.

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Street Survival - Advanced Defensive Driving