Curvy roads are a common factor in serious and fatal car accidents in Las Vegas. Curves cause unexpected shifts in the weight and velocity of the car, which can result in the driver losing control. Curvy road conditions also change with the weather. These types of roads are more dangerous during and after a rainstorm.
Physics and Curves
When a car is driving through a curve in the road, centrifugal force pulls it towards the edge of the curve. Centrifugal force is a rotational pull – objects that are in the rotation are pulled to the outside or edge of the rotation. The strong outward pull reduces the tires’ grip on the road. This can cause the car to skid into another lane of traffic or off the side of the road. The outward pull increases the faster the car is going and the tighter the curve.
Safely Negotiating Curves
Navigating a curve safely depends on understanding the different types of curves. Many curvy roads share one or more of these common features.
Increasing radius curves: these curves get tighter, requiring drivers to adjust their speed and lane position within the curve.
Decreasing radius curves: these curves get less sharp, requiring lane and speed adjustment.
Constant radius curves: these curves remain constant throughout, similar to highway merges, and are easier to navigate.
Downhill curves: drivers need to decrease speed while negotiating these curves because the car will naturally gain speed as it moves downhill.
Uphill curves: drivers need to increase speed while going through these curves because the car will lose acceleration as it goes uphill.
Blind curves: drivers cannot see the end of these curves and should proceed with caution.
“S” curves: these curves have two or more sharp turns in them going in opposite directions. These curves are common going up and down mountains.
Banked curves: the road is higher on one edge over the other, affecting the centrifugal force exerted on the vehicle.
When approaching a curve, drivers should decrease speed smoothly and constantly. As the driver approaches the center of the curve, she should start releasing the brake. Once the driver is in the center of the curve and can see the other road, she should start gently applying the accelerator to improve road grip as the car exits the curve.