The System of Car Control

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What is the System of Car Control?

"The System" originated from the Hendon UK police academy in 1936 and is still regarded by many as the most effective system for modern drivers.

It's a drill, each step of which is to be considered (in sequence) by the driver, at the approach to any hazard.
A hazard is anything dangerous or potentially dangerous that a driver may encounter (e.g. a roundabout, speed bump, overtaking manoeuvre, intersection, accident scene, sharp bend etc) - in short, anything which would or could interrupt your progress.

By correct application of the system, the vehicle will always be:
  • in the RIGHT PLACE on the road,
  • travelling at the RIGHT SPEED, and
  • with the RIGHT GEAR engaged.

The System in use

Below is an example of the System in use when approaching a T-intersection and turning right.
Applying System at T-Intersection
(1) PLAN
  Observe the hazard and decide the correct course.
(In this example, the driver sees that he is approaching a T-junction on a terminating road and must give way to all traffic. He plans to move closer to the centreline so that the vehicle will be in the correct position to turn right, and to arrive at the intersection at a suitable speed to check for & give way to all traffic on the new road).

  Check for following or overtaking traffic
(In this example, the driver won't move closer to the centerline if he is about to be overtaken, and will avoid being in a position where he may be required to brake heavily if there is a "tailgater").

  Signal your intention to other road users (here, the driver will signal "right").

  Reduce speed to a safe rate of approach and arrival at the hazard. Your brake lights will be a warning signal to drivers behind. (Gears are not normally used at this stage to slow the vehicle unless the driver thinks the brakes will be overloaded).
The driver will move into the correct position to take the turn (in this example, close to and to the left of the road centre-line).
Scan left & right into the intersection while approaching (see page on defensive driving).

  Select appropriate gear to clear the hazard without a further gearchange, check mirrors again before entering the hazard zone.
(In this example, due to the requirement to give way to all traffic on the new road, a low gear is required. First gear might be used if the visibility at the intersection is obstructed by fences or buildings).

  Be prepared to avoid any potentially dangerous situation which may have developed (eg: give way to other traffic).
If it is necessary to accelerate (e.g. moving into the intersection from stationary or a very low speed), do so smoothly with regard to the road surface and traffic conditions (e.g. risk of skidding).

Note: the System is a bare-bones framework only - it is used a starting point with which to develop effective defensive driving skills.
For example the System doesn't mention all-important scanning techniques.

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