- Image by Nick Fewings (@jannerboy62) on Unsplash

Do track days make for safer roads or drivers?

Not a rhetorical question. I'm genuinely curious.

44w ago

17K

Theories are a wonderful thing. At least, in theory. Theories, by the scientific method, require some actual evidence to back them up, or else they're just hypotheses. Some time ago, there was much fist-wringing over the number of accidents and incidents on Australian roads, and there were many suggestions about what could be done to solve the problem.

One of the suggestions made to curb the enthusiasm of young louts was to offer them a racing area, so that they can "blow off some steam", or that they can learn the limitations of their abilities and cars in a safer, controlled environment. The "Steam Blowing" facet of that theory, nay hypothesis, rang very hollow to me, when in the same year I first heard the idea, Lewis Hamilton was struck on the knuckles for hoonish behaviour outside the Melbourne Grand Prix.

If the best in the world can't blow off enough steam in the heat of the pinnacle of Motorsport (arguably) then what hope is there for Mister or Missus Everyday in their modified Nissan 180 Type X? Hamilton's a professional, and yet even he couldn't help himself. How much steam does one driver build up?

Image by Jan Ivo Henze (@jan_ivo) on Unsplash

Image by Jan Ivo Henze (@jan_ivo) on Unsplash

Yet I remained curious about the hypothesis that track days somehow made drivers more aware, or capable.

So I went on the Internet. And I found nothing.

No really, I couldn't find any studies to suggest that offering a controlled environment would assist drivers in making our roads safer. I'm not saying it's untrue, because a lack of evidence doesn't necessarily mean something doesn't exist. It may just be that not enough studying has been done on the subject.

I will outline that I am somewhat wary about the idea. I have often thought that tracks, and track days, offer an environment so vastly different to that of the open road, that they are universes apart. What is learned on the track could seldom be transitioned to the open road, where there are so many elements that could be introduced at any moment. Mid-corner bumps, other road users, and random and muscular fauna being only three chaos causers that immediately come to mind.

Couple that with the idea that growing confidence could lead to more risk-taking, and it would indicate that having a racing facility available for people so that they can learn to be safer on the roads is an counter-intuitive contention.

Image by Thanuj Mathew (@thanujmathew) on Unsplash

Image by Thanuj Mathew (@thanujmathew) on Unsplash

South Australia's premier motorsport park, The Bend, opened in April 2018

But before I demand everyone to get off my lawn, I will temper my inner rocking-chair inhabitant by admitting that driver training is something I feel is lacking in Australia. Compared to other countries, our teaching of youngsters about car safety is minimal at best, and laughably inadequate at worst.

If we ever had limitless Autobahns in this country, I wouldn't go anywhere near them. They would be a magnet for carnage.

As mentioned in the header, I am not trying to cement an opinion one way or another. I was wondering if anyone else had been successful in finding any information on this topic, and could help me form a decent idea on the matter.

Because if the evidence stacks up, and supports the idea of providing a track facility for the purposes of instruction, then I will support the (now) theory with a spring in my step, and a song in my heart.

But until then, it remains a hypothesis.

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Comments (37)

  • Having done over 1,000 laps at Mosport I can honestly say it has improved my regular driving. I look farther ahead and that in itself avoids trouble. Skid pad also helps in case of trouble.

      10 months ago
    • A good insight, thanks. I know that higher speed requires thinking further ahead - literally and figuratively - but never considered that track might encourage that. Perhaps only due to the next corner not being too far away, i suppose.

        10 months ago
  • Depends on the driver I'll say. If normies go to track day, learn how the professionals drive on road, if they have some common sense,they'll probably change the way they drive.

      10 months ago
  • As a 22 year old who has done a racing course and a few track days i can say it has made me a safer driver, if anything i now drive slower on roads, keep more distance and look further than i ever have, learned to notice road conditions , and i can honestly say that the things i learned have saved my life a couple of times

      10 months ago
    • Interesting, and good that you’ve gotten the skills up. Some, I fear, would take the experience and figure that because they’re “better” that they can do more risky moves. But its good you recognise the difference between driving...

      Read more
        10 months ago
  • I still haven't gotten around to doing a track day. As an aside though, last year I had to repurpose my GT86 as a daily drive. Purely subjectively, I think being engaged in driving makes you a better driver.

      10 months ago
    • I agree with that. It’s been one of the reasons I’ve avoided using other driving aids like adaptive cruise, lane keeping assist and the like.

      If you don’t use it, you lose it.

        10 months ago
  • I know I'm starting to push the boundaries on what is safe to do on a road where there is potentially other road users.

    Track means I can push my car, learn more about it and most importantly not put anyone else at risk.

      10 months ago
    • i understand the benefits of learning the car, but I am still concerned that it can breed overconfidence. But more ability is still better than no ability at all, i suppose :)

        10 months ago
    • I got wiped out by a couple of guys doing burn outs so am fully aware of the damage speed, stupidity and overconfidence can do.

      But I think that anytime you are honing a skill in the right proper and professional environment you learn respect...

      Read more
        10 months ago

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