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You are driving down a steep hill. Why could keeping the clutch down or rolling in neutral for too long be dangerous?

A Your vehicle will pick up speed.

Driving in neutral or with the clutch down for long periods is known as ‘coasting’. There will be no engine braking and your vehicle will pick up speed on downhill slopes. Coasting can be very dangerous because it reduces steering and braking control.

Related Information

Why is coasting so bad?

When the clutch pedal is depressed or the gear lever is in neutral, the automobile is moving but not being powered by the engine. Drivers occasionally coast down the road while they are not in gear, i.e. in neutral, decelerating, or travelling downhill. This saves fuel and money, but coasting may not always be safe.

While a car coasts, it slows down due to mechanical and aerodynamic grip, and when turning, the mechanical component of this is increased significantly due to slip angles in the tyres. In essence, it will most likely result in an accident or a skid.

According to The Highway Code:

"This term describes a vehicle travelling in neutral or with the clutch pressed down. Do not coast, whatever the driving conditions. It reduces driver control because:

- engine braking is eliminated

- vehicle speed downhill will increase quickly

- increased use of the footbrake can reduce its effectiveness

- steering response will be affected particularly on bends and corners

- it may be more difficult to select the appropriate gear when needed

People suggest that it is cheaper to repair brake pads or clutch, however this will cost you on your driving test, and more seriously this could leave you in an accident."

Coasting does not reduce your fuel consumption

Electronic Control Units are now standard in automobiles. These aid in reducing fuel, petrol, and diesel consumption while the accelerator is not depressed, such as when driving downhill. So, when coasting downhill, the engine is detached from the wheel, and the car cannot acquire the rotational power it requires from the wheel with your feet on the accelerator. In this case, the vehicle begins to idle. Older automobiles could undoubtedly save some fuel, however with newer cars with ECUs, this strategy does not work.

So remember: Avoid coasting

You don't have as much control if your car is coasting, and doing so while driving downhill can cause you to pick up speed rapidly, forcing you to brake harder than required.


Ahmed Ahmed

2 years ago


Shane Ebanks

2 years ago

Great studying tool!

Peter Turner

2 years ago


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