How To Drive: Like A Stunt Driver
Once upon a time in the west, men with jaws of granite and guns tucked down their Y-fronts developed evasive driving techniques for dealing with mobile assaults by terrorists in parts of the world where you tend not to book summer holidays.
Around the same time, some stunt men in Hollywood were doing the same thing because it was fun and looked cool on shows like The Fall Guy, Knight Rider and The Dukes of Hazzard. By adopting an aggressive driving style that destabilizes the car and then bringing in measured amounts of speed, steering and brake, they learned to make a car dance.
I’ve taught some of these skills to law-enforcement operatives, Special Forces and even James Bond himself, Whether you call them stunts or evasive driving, these moves are only legal on film sets or if you’re being shot at. In the real world, you’d only get to have a go on an airfield with an instructor and to do otherwise would be extremely dangerous both to you, and those around you.
These techniques represent the theoretical outer limits of what is possible and therefore deserve their place on How to Drive.
The goal of evasive driving is to evade the threat and flee to safety. Your aim throughout is to keep moving. In an ambush your best chance of escape is to drive through it, or spot it early enough to change your route. In Spiderman 2 there’s a scene where the villain carves through the city with a big tow truck, literally scything through traffic. I was one of 30 cops in hot pursuit, and we had to drive through the mess ‘no matter what’, while preserving the cars as best we could.The truck was turning cars into confetti. Squeezing through the maelstrom of flying debris and crashed cars was easier said than done, especially with half of New York’s finest trying to fit through the same hole.
When that hole was too small, I needed to make it bigger while avoiding the kind of head-on collision that usually kills radiators, so I would slap the offending blockage with one of the front quarter panels and drive through. One trick I’ve used before is to lift off the gas or dab the brake pedal just before impact and then accelerate through. It helps to lift the other car out of the way and preserves your momentum. It’s still crashing, but with style.