If you’ve been driving for a while, then you know for a fact that anything can happen while you’re behind the wheels. Wildlife can cause a gridlock, you may suddenly fall sick or your tire may burst. It could even be a serpent slithering from the trunk underneath your car to the cabin.
Whatever the case, you must be quick to react. Try to stay calm because panicking can easily jeopardize your safety as well as that of other road users. Here’s a list of 7 common but unexpected driving situations and how to handle each well.
1. Low Visibility Due To Fog, Oncoming Headlights and More
Low visibility issues often result in fatal road accidents. The best you can do is to avoid driving in any condition that compromises visibility. But what happens when you have no choice but to drive? It is simple. Don’t slam on the brake pedals if you can’t find a safer solution.
Brake moderately until your car slows down to a safer speed. As you do this, point your eyes down and try to focus on the solid white line by the roadside. Be sure to turn your high beams off as the bright light they emit will reflect off the fog and reduce visibility even further.
2. Snow, Rain, Hail of Sleet
There’s isn’t much you can do about inclement weather conditions. Your only solution here is to avoid speeding. That’s because any road covered in water, snow or ice reduced traction. As such, chances of skidding, sliding or spinning out increase. Slow down and drive at a safe speed. It doesn’t matter if everyone else on the road is speeding.
Remember that during the first half-hour of a heavy rainstorm, road surfaces become extremely slick. This is because of oil and dirt on the road mixing with water. Hail and sleet are characteristically icy and as such, it would be in your best interest to slow down. If possible, avoid driving in these conditions altogether.
Snowy roads are dangerous. Follow the visible tire tracks and trails ahead of you as you drive. Be sure to keep your tires inside the treads to increase traction. Then, by all means, avoid changing lanes as snow builds up between lanes. This creates slick spots where you can easily lose traction.
Turn off the music and roll down the window. That way, you’ll be able to hear lurking dangers that you may not necessarily see. Skidding vehicles, honking and accidents are examples of such dangers.
Rolling down the windows will also reduce the amount of condensation that builds up inside the car, on the windshield. This happens because the temperature outside the car is cooler than the temperature inside it.
3. Skidding on Standing Water or Black Ice
You’ll most likely come across stagnant water as you drive after a heavy downpour. Resist the urge to drive through it. Instead, slow down to a safer speed until you can assess the situation from inside the car.
Attempting to drive through standing water or black ice at high speed will cause you to lose traction. You’ll then slide across the surface with little or no control of your vehicle.
Ease your foot off the gas if you find yourself hydroplaning. Try not to move the steering wheel an inch. Avoid applying the brake as this will only encourage the vehicle to continue sliding instead of stopping. Stay calm and don’t accelerate again until your car regains traction.
5. Wildlife Crossing
Not all wild animals are dangerous. But even then, remain inside the car anytime you come across wildlife crossing. Keep the windows rolled down and do not feed the animals. Remember, large animals can cause extensive damage to your vehicle if you hit them at a high speed.
The best you can do here in a bid to protect yourself is to turn on your high beams. Be sure to only do this if there are no other vehicles around. The high beam light will give you a wider and brighter view of the road. It will also reflect off the animals’ eyes, making them easier to spot.
Be extra vigilant in areas that are marked with wildlife crossing signs. The signs are usually placed in spots where wild animals are known to congregate. Keep in mind that animals like deer travel in herds. Be on the lookout for other nearby if you come across a lone deer.
6. Health Issues
A sudden stroke as you drive, epileptic attack, asthma attack, labour pains and low blood sugars are examples of health issues that can crop up as you drive. Some of these issues are life-threatening.
As a thumb rule, you shouldn’t drive if you have chronic health issues that randomly crop up. If you have to drive though, then do it in the company of a loved one who can drive. Be sure to also go for scheduled health check-ups.
7. Flat Tire
Experiencing a blowout or a flat tire while driving on an interstate highway or any other high speed roadway presents special traffic dangers. There are measures you can take though, to help you reduce chances of road carnage.
Grip the steering wheel firmly at the first sign of tire trouble. Don’t for whatever reason slam the brakes. Please turn on the hazard lights and let the car slow down on its own gradually. You can do this by immediately taking your foot off the gas pedal.
Work your car toward the breakdown lane. If there is an exit, work your car toward it. If you have to change lanes, signal to the other drivers behind. You can then change smoothly and carefully as you watch your rearview and side mirrors.
Change your tires once you’re off the road. Drive home or to work but have your mechanic inspect the car later on. This is important so that you can be sure there is no residual damage resulting from the flat tire.
Try your best to stay calm anytime to you notice or experience something unusual as you drive. Be particularly careful if you have children on board. Then make a habit of inspecting your car as often as possible. Lastly, observe traffic rules all the time.
At Pierre Paul Driving School, we train you to handle any situation on the road with confidence. Call us now at 718-576-6277 for free consultation.