One of the benefits of big cars is that you can enjoy plenty of space in your driver’s seat. The problem is to fill this space correctly, though in modern vehicles you get many opportunities to customize the driver’s seat as you wish. You can move it forward or backward, tilt the back, lift the headrest and so on. While playing with all these levers and buttons, do not miss the basics:
- Make sure that your seat is not too close to the steering wheel, and yet not too far from it – you should be able to bend your legs slightly, while your feet are on the pedals. Check whether you can put two fingers between the knees and the seat.
- When the seat height is adjusted correctly, your hips should not be much higher than your knees. However, raise the seat a little bit if you have a poor view through the windshield and side mirrors.
- Your backrest should make a slope of about 100 degrees to allow you to grip the wheel easily with your arms slightly bent.
- Your head should be centered on the headrest with the vertex at the same level as the headrest top.
You can check whether your sitting posture is correct through this helpful guide.
Mirror, Mirror on the … Car
The correct positioning of mirrors is important for any car, but this is critical for big cars since large sizes contribute to larger blind spots. Do you remember what blind spots are? If not, go to Driver Start, read your state manual and undergo a sample test to fill the gap. Do not neglect the basics, and work on your mirrors, following the step-by-step procedure:
- Look at your left outside mirror, while leaning to the side window – you need to catch sight of the rear side of your car. When sitting upright, you should see no or very little of the wing, and the mirror should reflect the road behind, rather than trees and the sky – you don’t want it pointing up.
- Look at your right outside mirror, while leaning to the center of your car – now, the right rear side should be visible. Sit upright and check that you can see only a small piece of it.
- Look at your rearview mirror – its central point should reflect the center of the back windshield.
- To check the mirror’s position, ask somebody to walk around your vehicle, keeping a distance of about two meters. Follow the person through your mirrors – when your assistant gets out of sight in a side mirror, you should see him or her almost immediately through the rearview mirror and then in another outside mirror.
Here are some good pictures to help you with making the appropriate adjustments.
Face Blind Spots Fully Armed
Even with your mirrors perfectly adjusted, there will be blind spots – take this for granted. When your vehicle is longer, wider or higher than a standard city car, it is at higher risk since the design of large vehicles requires bulkier elements to provide better sturdiness. Thus, make use of the following tips helping to better cope with blind spots:
- Start with learning your blind spots. Usually, one of them is located right under your rear windshield – there is the place where kids and minor objects can be seen neither through the window nor through your rearview mirror because of their small height. The pillars of your car can narrow the view too, but you should learn to what extent they interfere with your observance. The trick with the assistant walking around your vehicle will show the weaknesses, but you should come from the fact that upon an increased speed, blind spots become wider since your peripheral vision narrows.
- When checking traffic through the outside mirrors, experts recommend tilting the body toward the steering wheel slightly, thereby making the viewing angle wider. Sure, you shouldn’t rely only on your mirrors – look over your shoulders. Prior to driving in reverse gear, go around the car or ask someone to check whether the way is clear.
- Various electronic devices are really of great help for large vehicles with their large blind spots. Backup alarm buzzers alert road users to your car reversing, rear-view cameras deliver an image to your control panel, and parking sensors inform you about obstacles you are unaware of. However, don’t be carried away by electronics and use it along with time-honored mirrors.
Inertia, Mass, and Other Physics
Larger vehicles are usually heavier vehicles, and this gives you some advantage. For example, upon collision, a greater power of impact will fall on a lighter car, even if your speed is higher – this is a physical law, and this is good for you since the damage is reduced to both you and your vehicle. But many drivers of large cars disregard another physical law – the inertial mass of your car interferes with braking. Yes, the gravitational mass improves both the road grip and the potential for braking, but which of the masses will win? This will depend on your speed, the quality of your tires’ rubber and the road condition. So what?
- Mind your speed. Even sharp brakes and high-quality tires can fail to reduce the energy of your heavy vehicle.
- Remember that cars brake with tires, and good brakes will not help, if your vehicle has worn out or cheap or out-of-season tires. If you want to improve the safety and braking dynamics of your car, give preference to high-quality tires rather than to expensive brake rotors, pads and so on.
- Press your brake pedal more intensively, when you want to stop a big vehicle, at least initially, until you get used to your brakes. Experts say that people who operated smaller cars previously tend to under-press the brake pedal, and thus they get a longer braking path.
- A collision with an immobile heavy obstacle on the roadside is more dangerous for a heavy car than a head-on collision, except for the cases when a heavier vehicle is coming toward you at a high speed – if so, get out of the way, even if it means pulling off the road.
Know Your Sizes
More space for people and cargo usually means you also need more space for parking and maneuvering. When you are used to a certain (smaller) size, it will take some time to get accustomed to new dimensions. If you are not sure whether there is enough space to park safely, you’d better find another spot with plenty of room for your big vehicle. However, don’t forget that many of today’s large cars are equipped with electrically assisted steering, and thus avoid excessive efforts when maneuvering at a low speed.
When changing lanes in heavy traffic, use your outside mirrors to check for an approaching vehicle – if you can see the entire car, it is safe to change lanes, but when only a part of it is reflected, the vehicle is too close, and it is necessary to wait for a safer opportunity.
To make sure you are ready to operate your big car safely, download the helpful Driver Start app available on App Store and Google Play and train your permit test under real-life conditions – it is a great way to get reacquainted with the basics!