Are you new to the road? Driving can be a little intimidating sometimes, but knowing what to do in an emergency can help ease that fear. Here’s how to deal with four common driving hazards.
- Tires slipping off the pavement. On narrow roads in particular, tires can slip off the edge of the pavement quite easily. On larger roads, rumble strips on the shoulder act as a warning to signal that you are getting close to the edge. In either case, the correct thing to do is to stay calm and to take your foot off the gas pedal. Slowly guide the car back onto the pavement. Do not jerk the wheel or slam on the brakes.
- Losing control due to a blown tire. Blowing a tire can be a frightening experience due to the explosive sound the rubber makes as it bursts, as well as due to the sudden unbalanced nature of the car. The best thing to do is to do nothing but drive straight. In fact, it’s recommended that you hit the gas pedal a little to help stabilize the car. Don’t hit the brakes; instead, let the drag from the tire naturally slow down the car so that you can safely maneuver it to the side of the road.
- Hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs in wet conditions when the tires lose traction. The car skids on the road, usually for only a matter of seconds, and may skid in a straight line or in an erratic fashion. The best thing to do is to take your foot off the gas or the brake and to gently steer the car. You’ll regain control once your tires regain traction, so gentle maneuvering prevents further spinning or skidding.
- Poor visibility during a storm or due to fog. When visibility is low, it is difficult to see the lines in the road and the cars around you. Make sure your head lights are on, and consider turning on your emergency blinkers to ensure other drivers see you. Slow down to a safe speed and be careful not to accelerate or brake too quickly. Turn the air onto the windshield if it begins to fog up due to dramatic temperature differences.
Notice how staying calm and gently guiding your vehicle is a good strategy regardless of what is happening!
General Tips for Safe Driving
To stay as safe as possible on the road, remember to practice defensive driving. This tactic means you actively stay out of the way of other drivers and assume they do not see you. The opposite is offensive driving, where drivers expect everyone else to see them and get out of their way, which is of course reckless and dangerous. For more details about defensive driving, download free DMV practice tests, which are perfect refreshers regardless of how long you’ve been behind a wheel.
Next, it’s also important that your vehicle is well-maintained, especially in terms of tires, brakes and windshield wipers. The tread on your tires needs to be sufficient to give you proper grip on potentially slick roads, the brakes should be responsive to help you avoid a collision if needed, and the windshield wipers ought to be capable of keeping your visibility as clear as possible.
Finally, to be fully prepared for hazardous conditions, find an advanced driving course near you to help you experience these situations first-hand in a controlled environment.