Driving requires you to be alert all the time because an emergency can crop up when you least expect it. By nature, the times for most emergencies are not easy to foresee. They can catch you off-guard. To minimize the impact of these unexpected occurrences, you need to master driving emergencies and how to deal with them when an emergency happens while you are driving.
It is a fact of life that you cannot always prevent all these emergencies. What you can do is prepare to deal with them should they occur. Hence, the following are ways to deal with different driving emergencies.
1. A Tire Bursts
A bursting tire can startle you so much that you can even forget you are on the wheel, especially if you are a new driver fresh from a driving school. That is why it is crucial you learn how to react should a tire burst when you are on the road.
What should you immediately do if a tire burst while you are driving?
- Keep Calm: This is not the time to get confused. Act as though nothing has happened. Stay calm and pretend nothing has happened.
- Maintain a steady hold on the steering wheel: You have to continue steering the car, otherwise something worst than a tire burst might happen.
- Gradually let go of the accelerator: As you continue to steer the vehicle, slowly remove your foot from the accelerator.
- Brake: Once the car has come to a stop, apply the brakes.
2. Steering Wheel Failure
But what if another day, the emergency you have to deal with is a steering wheel that is suddenly unable to control your car? Again, you have to start by remaining calm, even if the situation is alarming. Remember that the success of the steps you take in the next seconds or milliseconds depends mostly on your calmness.
- Gradually let go of the accelerator: You should slowly take your foot away from the accelerator. Please do not do it hastily.
- Turn on your hazard lights: You should now alert other road users that you are having a serious emergency, so they should watch out for your next moves.
- Do not brake abruptly: One mistake you are likely to make is to brake abruptly. Do not do that. A car whose steering wheel has failed will usually continue going straight. If you apply brakes, it could swerve, causing harm to you and other road users should there be a crash.
- Brake slowly: You should only brake once the car has slowed to a manageable pace. Even then, press the brakes slowly.
3. Stuck Accelerator
What if the accelerator gets stuck while you are driving? You should calmly carry out the following precautionary measures:
- Turn gears to neutral.
- Apply the brakes while focusing on the road. The real danger is out there.
- Look for ways you can get out of your current path.
- Activate your hazard lights to alert other road users that all is not well with your car.
- Drive out of the road as safely as you can.
- Once you are away from the traffic, turn off the car engine.
4. Overheating Engine
You should always take the time to read your temperature to check if all is well with your car engine. This is why you should always be alert while driving. Distractions like making calls can take your attention from seemingly minor details about your car, but whose repercussions can be tragic.
Pulling a trailer, climbing a steep road, or now-red-now-green traffic can cause the car engine to overheat. So what should you do when the car engine overheats?
- Turn off the air-conditioner.
- Leave the road.
- Turn off the engine.
- Stay away from the car and watch it cool
5. Headlights Failure
Should your headlights suddenly malfunction for whatever reason, you should follow these easy steps:
- Turn on your four-way flashers, parking lights, and turn signals to provide you with light. The light may not be enough, but it can still help.
- Use the light to drive safely out of the road.
- Meanwhile, alert other drivers using your hazard lights.
- Call for help once you are out of harm’s way.
6. Brakes Failure
We have already discussed elsewhere what you should or shouldn’t do when the breaks fail. The moment you realize the brakes are not responding, stay calm, and take these steps:
- Keep driving while reducing your speed slowly. If your car is the new model with a dual brake system, a backup brake will have taken over, giving you limited braking power in such an emergency situation.
- But if it is the traditional model, you should shift to a lower gear as carefully as possible. This is possible even with recent automatic cars with manual modes.
- Turn on your hazard signals to warn other road users.
- Apply the emergency brake with care by holding the button as you slowly pull the emergency brake. The car is not going to stop suddenly though. Beware that an emergency brake may cause the car to skid if the back wheels lock.
- The ignition should always be on throughout this ordeal so that the power steering is not disabled. Remember, your life may now depend on steering.
- Find a way to leave the traffic if possible.
- If there is a steep slope around, go after it. The climbing is going to slow your car further.
- If there is some soft object around you can hit with minimal impact, go straight for it. Shrubs are usually the best targets. Do not choose a tree if you can hit a shrub.
7. Driving Through a Wildlife Area
It would be best if you were extra careful when driving through some wooded area where wildlife animals can cross the road at any time. The best way to avoid hitting one is to expect them at any time as you drive. The thought that a deer would jump from nowhere onto your front should keep you alert.
We mention deer because it is the notorious animal, though you can also knock a bear or a moose. How to avoid knocking deer or other wildlife while driving?
- Always scan the road as you drive through a wildlife area.
- Turn on your high headlight beams and make good use of them.
- For the deer areas, be more alert in the last three months of the year because it is the period the deer breed and move a lot.
- The deer are also more active at dusk and early in the morning, which is also the peak hours for vehicular traffic, meaning the chances of deer-related accidents are high at this time. Early morning or dawn also means poor visibility and drowsiness for some drivers, yet it is the time deer are most active.
- If you see a deer crossing the road, watch out for possible others because deer loves to travel in groups.
- Slow down when you see a deer-crossing sign. A deer can jump out of nowhere into the middle of the road any minute.
- Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers if you see a deer in sight.
As this post has shown, there is more to driving than just passing the driving test. During the test, they will likely not burst your tire or put a deer on your path to evaluate your preparedness for such emergency scenarios. But you still need these skills for your safety in your driving career.