Acceleration Techniques for Smooth Driving & Complete ControlUpdated Sept. 24, 2020
When you press the gas pedal, more fuel is fed into the engine and the vehicle’s speed increases. To what extent and how rapidly your vehicle accelerates is determined by the force you apply to the gas pedal and for how long you apply that pressure. Some driving situations will demand a very gentle increase in speed while others will call for rapid acceleration. New drivers must learn to control their speed with effective acceleration techniques and utilize these skills appropriately on the roads.
Increasing vehicle speed
Do not press your entire foot down on the accelerator when you need to increase speed. Effective and controlled acceleration is achieved by pressing the gas pedal with the ball of the right foot, while the heel remains on the floor. Mastering this movement is important as it allows for a precise application of pressure to the pedal. Without your heel on the floor, you may not be able to increase speed smoothly or brake suddenly, if required.
Drivers must regularly check the vehicle’s speedometer while accelerating to identify when the desired speed has been reached. At this point, you must ease your foot off the accelerator slightly to maintain speed without further acceleration. Keep in mind that it is extremely easy to underestimate how fast you are traveling, particularly on high-speed roads.
Initially, accelerating to and maintaining an appropriate speed will demand concentration. As you become more familiar with your vehicle it will be less work, as you will instinctively know how much pressure to apply to the accelerator to achieve the desired effect.
Generally, acceleration is either smooth, rapid, or something in between. Most driving situations demand smooth acceleration, with a steady increase of pressure to the gas pedal resulting in a gradual increase in speed. Rapid acceleration is achieved by applying pressure to the gas pedal with more force. You would only use this technique in situations which warrant a substantial increase in speed in a very short time.
“Creeping acceleration” is a third, lesser-used technique which facilitates an extremely gentle and gradual increase in speed. Creeping acceleration will come in handy during adverse environmental conditions that do not allow for ordinary acceleration techniques.
Smooth acceleration is achieved by maintaining just enough pressure on the gas pedal to keep the speedometer moving steadily upward, until the desired speed is reached. Sometimes this will mean holding the accelerator down partially without adding more pressure and at other times, it will demand a gradual increase in pressure. The latter is usually true when accelerating up a slope.
Drivers should always aim for smooth acceleration when the situation allows it, as this technique makes it easier to control the vehicle. Accelerating smoothly means you will not have to contend with any sudden weight transfers toward the back of the vehicle that could cause loss of traction. Maintaining weight-balance through smooth acceleration will also help to prolong the life of your tires.
Accelerating smoothly is the most fuel-efficient way of driving. It releases only as much gas as the engine needs and does not force your car to work harder than necessary. Constant speeding up and slowing down will quickly burn through your fuel and the contents of your wallet.
Use smooth acceleration when:
- Passing the midpoint of a turn or curve in the road. The gentle shift of weight toward the rear of the vehicle will improve your grip on the road’s surface.
- Moving off from a standstill.
- Moving onto a stretch of road with a higher speed limit (note that rapid acceleration is required on expressway acceleration ramps).
Remember that you can cease acceleration and decrease speed simply by removing your foot from the accelerator pedal. Braking may be unnecessary, will certainly use up more fuel and can cause a skid if too much force is used.
You will need to use the rapid acceleration technique when you must increase speed dramatically over a short distance. In contrast to smooth acceleration, this technique will burn through fuel and wear your tires out if used too often. Here are some situations which may demand rapid acceleration:
- Using an acceleration lane to gain speed before entering an expressway.
- Passing another driver or changing lanes at high speed.
- To avoid a traffic collision or accident.
Remember to avoid slamming your foot down on the gas pedal when accelerating rapidly. You will need to apply substantial force to the accelerator but doing so too suddenly could cause a wheel spin, as opposed to the desired increase in speed.
Treacherous driving conditions may demand creeping acceleration to maintain control of your vehicle. If snow, ice, mud or other environmental hazards are decreasing your grip on the road’s surface, use creeping acceleration by pressing your foot on to the accelerator gently, and with extreme care.
Keep in mind that vehicles with a manual transmission will begin to move forward slowly as soon as the brake pedal is released, without the gas pedal being applied. In extreme situations, this minor acceleration may be all that is required.
When driving on a level stretch of road, drivers should be able to maintain a consistent pressure on the gas pedal while still increasing speed. Accelerating uphill will demand a gradual increase in pressure on the gas pedal, to counteract the force of gravity acting against your vehicle.
Where extremely steep hills are concerned, it is usually best to drive in a lower gear. Try to use first or second gear, as losing momentum in third could result in your vehicle rolling backward as you attempt to shift down a gear.
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