Training to avoid an emergency is difficult for both the student to learn and the instructor to teach. When a driver is confronted with an emergency, the amount of turning, steering, and braking needed to get out of trouble are not predetermined; in fact, that’s why it’s called an emergency. When the driver is confronted with an emergency – it’s “Holy Stuff,” and then the driver goes to work. From a vehicle dynamics perspective, an emergency maneuver is different than driving through a corner. When driving through a corner, the energy applied to the vehicle’s center of gravity is being applied relatively slowly and smoothly. I know it does not seem slow from inside the vehicle, but from the vehicle dynamics point – it is.
There is a big difference between energy applied to the vehicle going through a corner at speed and the energy applied to a vehicle during an emergency maneuver. In an emergency, there is a massive spike of energy applied to the vehicle’s center of gravity.
Again the driver does not purposely put a high spike of energy on the vehicle. Consider that if they are moving at the rate of 40 MPH and an obstacle is in their path 75 feet away, they are 1.25 seconds away from the obstacle. Since it is a surprise, the driver’s reaction time will eat up at least half a second. At that point, the driver has to apply enough energy to move the vehicle away from the obstacle and not too much energy that would cause the vehicle to go out of control, and do all that in a couple of tenths of a second in the blink of an eye.
The success of the event will depend on the vehicle’s speed, how quickly the steering wheel is moved, and the capability of the student/vehicle combination. Racing fans may consider the following blasphemy. But when the center of gravity a vehicle gets hit with a large spike of energy, it does things that would challenge the best racer. The driver will need to perform an emergency maneuver with a vehicle with about 75% less handling capability than the average race car. That is one hell of a dance. The skill needed to drive out of an emergency will not be learned by driving lines and apexes. This is a skill learned in the lane-change exercise –the dimensions of the exercise, the speed the students enter, and when the signal is given for the lane change all need to be synchronized. When it’s all together and working, it is one of the most valuable skills that can be taught.