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Dealing with emergencies

June 9, 2012
By DAVE WERNER (dwerner151@verizon.net) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

If you drive long enough (and that probably won't be very long), you will undoubtedly encounter some type of emergency, and it's good practice to know what to do when it happens. We can't anticipate every situation but practicing defensive driving is the best protection you have. Following, in no particular order, are some things you should consider before they happen so you will be better able to handle these situations. The countermeasures presented here are only suggestions based on the experience of safety experts and are not meant to be memorized and applied in every situation, as every driving emergency is somewhat different depending on circumstances. Furthermore, for the same emergency situation, every expert will suggest a countermeasure that will likely be slightly differ from the next. Lastly, much credit for this article should be given to the Ontario Driver's Handbook, which lists many suggestions for coping with some common road emergencies.

1.If your brakes fail - total brake failure is very rare on modern vehicles, but if it happens, try pumping the brake pedal to restore hydraulic brake pressure. If this doesn't work, apply the parking brake gently but firmly while holding the release button. New drivers should practice a parking brake emergency stop under controlled conditions.

2. If your gas pedal sticks - first, try to lift the pedal by slipping your foot under it. Do not reach down with your hands. If this doesn't work, turn on your 4-way hazard flashers, shift into neutral and stop as soon and as safely as you can.

3. If your headlights go out - check the switch immediately. If the lights stay out, turn on your 4-way hazard lights (this will give you some light) and pull of the road in a safe place to await assistance.

4. If your wheels go off the pavement - Don't panic. Grip the steering wheel firmly, take your foot off the gas pedal to slow down (don't brake hard). When the vehicle has slowed and is under control, steer carefully back onto the pavement.

5. If a tire blows Again don't panic. Grip the steering wheel firmly, take your foot of the gas to slow down (again, don't brake hard), and bring the vehicle to a safe stop off the road.

6. If a vehicle is coming towards you in your lane, flash your headlights and steer to your right to try to avoid a crash. Do not move into the oncoming lane the other driver may become aware he is in the wrong lane and steer to his right to correct.

Additional helpful safety tips:

1.Whenever you are waiting for oncoming traffic before making a left turn, keep your front wheels straight don't start turning them to the left. If you get hit from behind and your wheels are turned to the left, the collision will propel you into a head-on collision with oncoming traffic.

2. Never use cruise control on wet, snowy or icy roads.

3. When receiving a phone call while driving, pull off the road, even if you have a hands-free phone. It's the conversation that's the distraction.

4. Whenever you are stopped along the side of the road, use your 4-way hazard lights, not your right turn signal. This is V&T Law.

5.V&T Law requires signaling a lane change or a turn at least 100 feet prior to the lane change or the turn. However, if you are planning to turn off a highway that is 55 mph, you should signal before beginning to slow down, which will be more than the required minimum of 100 feet. If you are going to turn less than 100 feet past another intersection, don't put your turn signal on before the first intersection - other motorists may think you are turning at that intersection.

6.Backing accidents are very common. Avoid backing unless absolutely necessary. For instance, in a shopping center, find a parking space where you can drive through, so when you return to your car, you can drive forward.

For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board's web site at: www.franklincony.org and click on "Traffic Safety Board" under departments then look for Did You Know articles under services.

 
 

 

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