Each year thousands of motorists run off the road due to a variety of reasons. It is what happens “after” the motorist runs off the roadway that will determine the outcome. Responding with the wrong action could cause an accident and result in property damage, injuries, and/or fatalities. Here’s some tips on how you should handle driving in similar situations:
If your vehicle drifts off the pavement onto the shoulder:
The shoulder is generally a drop-off zone, meaning that it lies lower than the pavement. Drop-offs are common, and you should be prepared to drive on one in case you drift onto the shoulder. If you are unprepared, this can cause a serious accident. A drop-off is normally found on rural roads, and may be in places that are under construction to be resurfaced, or when there is a ledge at the shoulder.
Do not steer sharply in order to get back onto the road. This can cause the car to whip sideways, and if there is oncoming traffic, this can cause a serious traffic accident.
Here is what to do if your car drifts onto the shoulder:
- Ease off the gas pedal and do not brake suddenly.
- Keep yourself parallel to the roadway with two wheels on the roadway and two wheels on the shoulder. Keep the tires from scraping the edge of the pavement. Remain calm and keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
- Slow your vehicle down gradually and continue to keep it under your control. The ideal speed is between 10 and 25 mph.
- Check for traffic approaching on the roadway to your left and use your left turn signal to indicate that you will soon make a move into that lane.
- Gently steer left to ease your right wheels onto the pavement, and when you feel all of your wheels have returned to the pavement, steer right to straighten out your vehicle.
- Speed up to match the flow of traffic and ensure that you have control of your vehicle.
If another vehicle is approaching head-on in your lane:
The first action to take is to honk your horn to alert the other driver. If the other driver does not move over, attempt to escape to your right. If you swerve left and the other driver corrects their vehicle at the same time, you will crash. In the event that a collision is unavoidable, brake firmly and steadily. Every mile per hour that you are able to slow down before the collision will reduce the impact.