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​Negotiating Curves

The most important thing to understand about curves is you cannot beat the laws of physics. Vehicles are heavy, and they have lots of inertia. This means if you are driving too fast on a curve, your vehicle is going to keep moving straight ahead instead of around the curve, no matter how much you try to steer it or slow it down to keep it in your lane. You will either run off of the road (on a left-bending curve) or go into the other lane of traffic (on a right-bending curve). You do not have to be traveling very fast for this to happen. If the curve is sharp and the road is wet or icy the most reduction in speed is needed.

Teen Crash Fact

The most frequent crash type for 16-year-old drivers in Pennsylvania is a single-vehicle, run-off-the-road crash. From 2013 to 2017, there were 3,291 crashes and 20 people killed.

Photo provided by the Pennsylvania State Police


As you approach a curve, you will usually see a yellow diamond warning sign showing how the road bends. If the road bends at a 90-degree angle, you may see a rectangular yellow sign with a large arrow pointing left or right.

Some sharp curves also have chevron warning signs placed throughout the turn; these are very helpful at night or in poor visibility conditions. Review the various types of curve warning signs shown in Chapter 2.

Here is how you can safely drive through curves:

  1. Keep slightly to the right of the lane center on right curves and in the middle of your lane on left curves.
  2. The sharper the curve, the more you need to reduce your speed.
  3. Look for traffic coming from the opposite direction. A speeder could easily stray into your lane.
  4. For guidance about how to steer your vehicle, scan ahead, and look at the inside edge of the curve. If there are multiple curves, look at the inside edge of each curve as far ahead as you can see.