It is unreasonable to believe that you will be completely safe driving only if you are fully aware of your own driving at all times. Any time you drive, you are on the road with other people, and sometimes those other people can make bad decisions that cause dangerous situations. Part of learning how to drive is being aware of what to do in potentially dangerous driving situations. One of the best moves you can make is to prepare yourself ahead of time, long before you ever take your place behind the wheel, and become educated on the safest ways to respond when it comes to an emergency situation while driving. Here are some tips on how to handle tough driving situations:
Avoiding an Accident: Is it better to swerve or brake?
If there is an accident in front of you, or anything that makes you wonder if you should brake or swerve to avoid further highway obstruction, your best option depends on the speed at which you are currently driving and the specific situation you encounter. If you are moving at above 25 mph, it is more safe for you to swerve than hit your brakes. This is because you have a faster reaction time when you swerve than when you brake, and a few seconds delay can be a big deal when you are driving at a higher speed.
In order to be prepared for this situation:
- Hold the steering wheel tightly.
- The best positions for your hands are at 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock on the wheel, or 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. Try each of these and determine which is most comfortable for you.
- While 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock are often perceived as being the best position, this is actually dangerous to you if the airbag is released.
If you have to brake suddenly:
If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), maintain firm and continuous pressure on the brake pedal. Your vehicle will not skid.
If you do not have anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes by pressing and releasing repeatedly. This will keep the vehicle under control.
If you are unsure what type of braking system your car has, check your owner’s manual.
If your vehicle starts to skid:
This can occur on a wet or icy road, and the best way to handle this situation is to steer your vehicle in the direction you want to go.
- If the rear of your vehicle is skidding to the left, turn your wheel to the left.
- If the rear of your vehicle is skidding to the right, turn your wheel to the right.
- Do not use your brakes, as this may make the skid worse.
Sometimes, when you are steering to correct a skid, the car may begin to skid again. The best option is to continue to correct these skids using the above method.
If the roadways are flooded:
It is necessary to understand that some cars are affected by six inches of water, and may float. Most vehicles, including SUVs, will float in two feet of water. Traveling at low speeds is not a guaranteed method for avoiding danger on a flooded roadway. The best option is for you to find another route.
If there is heavy rain, you must be aware that this will decrease visibility both in terms of being able to see directly outside of your vehicle and the distance around you. Your view is limited based on how much rain is coming down and at which speed you are driving. Depending on how heavy the rainfall is, your best and safest option may be to pull off the road and wait until the heavy rain has passed. If you intend to continue driving through these dangerous conditions, be sure that you are driving slower than usual, and turn on your headlights no matter what time of day it is. This will help other drivers to see your lights through the heavy rainfall, and when other drivers have their headlights on, you are able to view them easier as well.