BMW Performance Driving School (With Video)
What do I need driving tips for?
You take a tennis lesson to fine-tune your backhand or a golf lesson to get rid of that pesky hook, but rarely do you get a chance to hone your driving skills.
I mean, why would you? You've been driving forever at this point. A class isn't going to help you, right?
BMW's Performance Driving School in Spartanburg, South Carolina allows for the opportunity to return to the fundamentals and improve your precision and defensive driving.
I recently attended the one-day course with a single goal in mind: to become a fancy Mr. Drifter behind the wheel. But much to my surprise, what I discovered instead were valuable lessons in defensive driving.
My weekend test-driving consists of trips out of the city to the Hudson River Valley, the Berkshires or the more scenic patches of my native New Jersey. I consider myself an exemplary driver, but my fiancée might disagree if her backseat driving has any voice in the matter.
Honing The Fundamentals: Hand Position
I spent my youth lusting after my grandfather's '55 T-Bird, admiring the opera windows. But in a nice dose of reality, I learned how to drive on the 2001 VW Jetta my older sister and I leased in high school. I left driver's ed somehow convinced of my driving skill.
When I got to South Carolina, I discovered how wrong I was.
For instance, I thought 10 and 2 were the proper clock positions for my hands. At the BMW Performance Driving School, I learned that the 3 and 9 ratio makes for a much more efficacious positions. Seems like a minor switch, but my turn radius improved drastically. My steering became more efficient, and I never had to lift one hand over the other in leap frog to make a tight turn.
No Blind Spot
Adjusting your mirrors accordingly every time you're behind the wheel is essential. Despite mythology to the contrary, it's actually possible to eliminate a blindspot completely.
Typically, we have our mirrors set so that we can see the back of our car, but that's unnecessary. Widen your perspective by having the outside of the far edge of your mirrors get pushed so that the inside of the mirror projects more.
We also tend to double-dip on our viewing range by having overlapping viewpoints on our rear view mirror and sideview mirrors. By adjusting the sideview mirrors so they incorporate only the edge of what's encompassed in the rearview mirror's frame and extend beyond, we can create a wider range of vision.
In driving, we get into habits. It's mostly a factor of complacency. We know how to drive; it's old hat, so why do we have to change the way we've always done it? But the split second you turn because your mirrors are not properly set can result in an accident. Keep yourself facing forward by having the right mirror adjustments.
Look Where You Want To Go
Your eyes have incredible control over your driving--more than you realize. In fact, when you look somewhere in a car, your hands will adjust to move there. Optical control dictates manual control behind the wheel.
Accelerate Through Curves
Go on, admit it: your driving could use a little boot camp too.
Knowing something as basic as the right way to take a curve can greatly improve your driving smoothness, instead of shuffled interplay between brake and pedal.
As a timid driver, I tend to brake while going through turns. This tactic, though, stifles the driving and comes off as a little wussy. Letting up on the gas as you approach a curve and then putting the pedal to the metal gradually allows for optimal control and efficiency.
Keep Your Eyes (Far Ahead) On The Road
In the age of distracted driving and texting-while-turning, it might be enough to suggest that drivers keep their eyes on the road. But the BMW Performance Driving School teaches you to keep your eyes in the distance to be able to anticipate turns and obstacles.
This piece of advice seems an obvious one until you realize how often you've been driving with your vision not far off your hood.
The BMW Performance Driving School allows for a fun and exhilarating experience on the track with some essential knowledge to ramp up your driving game. Though you may have the experience of hitting 130 in a 3-Series or zipping through cones in a Z4, the true value take-away comes in your increased safety on the road through seemingly obvious, but insightful, tips.