Many drivers and learner drivers are unsure about what coasting is and how they can avoid it, a lot of drivers may not even be aware that they are coasting. The definition of coasting is 'moving easily without using power'. In terms of coasting in a car, it means that the car is moving without using the engine, this occurs when the clutch is depressed too early or when the car is moving whilst in neutral.
Why does coasting happen?
There are many different situations where a car may be coasting, this can be deliberately or by mistake without realising.
Some drivers believe that coasting in certain situations, such as when driving downhill, is economical as it saves fuel. However, coasting while travelling downhill is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Coasting can also happen unintentionally, such as when turning corners or or coming to a stop. Sometimes drivers do not leave themselves enough time to change gears and completely release the clutch before turning. This forces the car to turn while the clutch is down, which is coasting.
Why is coasting dangerous?
Coasting is potentially dangerous as it means you will have less control over the car. Keeping the clutch down when making a turn, for example, is called 'free-wheeling' which means the engine is disengaged. When the engine is engaged you benefit from engine braking which increases the control you have over the car. Coasting also means you would be unable to accelerate quickly in a potentially dangerous situation.
How to avoid coasting
The first step in avoiding coasting is identifying that you're doing it. Your DRIVE321 driving instructor will be keeping an eye on this and will tell you if you're coasting. You can avoid coasting when turning corners by placing your foot over the clutch when approaching a turn and gently applying pressure to the footbrake until you reach an appropriate speed for the turn. When you are about 10 meters from the turn, depressed the clutch, select second gear and then gently release your foot from the clutch. Keep your feet over both the brake and the clutch while making the turn.