Driving Tips From A Professional Stuntman

Driving is an everyday part of life for most Australians. Whether it be commuting to and from work or doing weekend trips, we innately call on our driving abilities to get to our destinations and keep us from danger. But do you know some of the vital skills that could save your life when you get in trouble on the roads? We spoke to a professional stunt driver to find out what they are and got behind the wheel of a sports car for some stunt driving advice.

Once you get your full licence, there really isn’t any mandatory requirements for you to do refresher courses to ensure your driving abilities don’t go stale with age. You are kind of expected to pick up skills on your own with little to no guidance. At a recent event for Furious 7’s Blu-Ray release, we spoke to to Russell Frost, who has been a professional stunt driver for 28 years. Considering he is still alive after doing some crazy car stunt work in a bunch of Hollywood movies, he knows a thing or two about being safe while driving.

We picked his brains on driving advice distilled from his years of experience in cars.

Basic skills every driver should know

Being so adept at driving, Frost is acutely aware of the kind of skills many everyday drivers lack. These include:

  • Basic countersteering: If your car is sliding out in one direction, turn the wheels into the direction of where the car is sliding out to. This isn’t a skill that you can just pick up instantly and will require practice.

    According to DrivingFast.net:

    “Applying corrective steering needs to be done rapidly to catch the back of the car before it slides to a point which may be difficult to control. Once the slide has been controlled and the back starts to fall back in line, it’s also important to get the steering correction off quickly too, otherwise you might find your self with oversteer in the opposite direction due to the resulting pendulum effect.”

  • Threshold breaking: This is slowing down as quick a possible with good brake pedal control, maintaining brake force at the optimum level.
  • Knowing how to apex a corner so you don’t cut into it too much: The apex is where the car reaches the furthest point inside of a turn. This will determine where the arch of your turn begins. If you apex too early, you end up cutting the corner too much.

Don’t drive at 100 per cent

Most people use their driving skills to the fullest when they’re on the road and, according to Frost, that is not going help you in hairy situations.

“Most people drive at 100 per cent, so when they make a mistaken then there is no room for error,” he told Lifehacker Australia. “We (as stunt workers) are always told to drive at about 80-85 per cent so that way, if you’re in trouble, you always have a little bit of skill up your sleeve to get out of that situation.

“If you drive right on your limit, if something goes wrong then you’re out of your depth.”

Oversteering and Understeering

Oversteering is when the rear tires lose traction before your front tyres. This causes cars to spins out and drivers would see their lives flashing before their eyes. There are several causes for this including worn back tyres, entering a turn too fast and braking too hard while in a turn.

Frost says countersteering, which is one of his three basic skills every driver should have, is the solution for oversteering.

Understeering is the opposite of oversteering. It’s when the front tyres lose traction before the rear tyres, causing the car to slide straight off the road. To combat this, Frost recommends easing off the throttle until you can get your steering back.

Got any driving tips you’ve found particularly useful? Share them with us in the comments.

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