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Home arrow Driving Articles arrow An Associate's Guide arrow Limit Point Analysis
Limit Point Analysis

(see HTBABD p67)

“… drive at a speed which enables you to stop on your own side of the road in the distance you can see to be clear”

Analysed intelligently, limit points will never let you down!  They are the really true friend of the driver - one of the few utterly dependable features on the road.  Of course, all this is only true if the driver has a clear understanding of speed, distance and overall stopping distances!

The limit point is defined as “…the farthest point along a road to which you have a clear and uninterrupted view of the road surface.”  (Roadcraft P115).  It is the point along the road ahead of you where both sides of the carriageway appear to meet and form in a point, i.e. the limit point.

Many drivers will impulsively use the brake pedal when they want to slow down but really excellent drivers repeatedly analyse the information they gain from the limit point (limit point analysis) to make a direct cerebral connection to their accelerator pedal, adjusting the vehicle’s speed to the speed at which the limit point either comes toward them or moves away from them by use of the accelerator pedal alone.  This use of accelerator pedal to adjust speed without using brakes is known as ‘Accelerator Sense’.

This doesn’t mean you should never use brakes on the approach, especially important from high speeds, but practicing ‘accelerator sense’ is a good discipline to get under your belt.

Limit Points always occur in 3 stages and in the following order:

  1. It comes towards you.  This occurs either;
    1. as you approach a bend in the road or,
    2. as you approach a humped back bridge or,
    3. as you reach the apex of a hill.
  2. It is matched.  This is the point where the road ahead is now neither coming towards you nor going away from you.  It is the point where the speed of the vehicle is now matched to the speed at which the limit point is moving.  The vehicle is now at the correct speed for the hazard.
  3. It goes away from you.  This is the stage where the limit point begins to rush away from you towards the far distance and where you can begin to accelerate out of the bend.  As long as the limit point continues to move away from you, you can accelerate as firmly as you like and you will still not be able to catch up with it.

Limit Point Analysis is the technique of appraising the limit point during your approach to bends in such a way that you can place your vehicle in the most appropriate position before getting the correct speed and selecting the optimum gear (in that order) to deal with the particular bend whilst always making sure ‘you can stop on your own side of the road in the distance you can see to be clear’.

However, being able to stop in this distance requires a really tried and tested understanding of the overall stopping distances which can be found in the Highway Code.

By constantly applying ‘Limit Point Analysis’, understanding overall stopping distances and continuously using the information gained from the analysis to make a direct cerebral connection between the limit point and your accelerator pedal foot, you will always be able to assess whether you can ‘stop in the distance...you can see to be clear’.  Limit Point Analysis is a technique which must be used at every corner in order to negotiate the hazard in a way that is safe, systematic and which leaves nothing to chance.

Each time you approach a bend you should also be considering three factors:

  1. From what I see – how best can I apply Limit Point Analysis? = O  OBSERVE
  2. What might I reasonably expect to happen?  =U   UNDERSTAND
  3. How do I plan to deal with it and can I stop in the distance? = R  REACT 

Camber and super-elevation play major roles in both instability and stability of a vehicle when cornering and so it’s important to identify at an early stage what sort of surface you are dealing with and be prepared to run the System of Car Control again.    GKB 2013

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