This summer, you might be headed out on a road trip to a state park or maybe just for a quick visit to the in-laws. But, if you lose your brakes, blow a tire, or experience another unusual (but not unheard of) problem, you could be headed for trouble.
So, let’s take a look at four situations you might face and some general guidance that may help you reach your destination safely:
- The brakes go out
Your primary concern, of course, is to work your way over to the shoulder and stop the vehicle. To do so, try to downshift smoothly through the gears, which should slow down the car. Once you’re off the road, try the emergency brake and, if needed, roll into something that will help bring you to a stop while going at a low speed. Always avoid high-speed collisions, if at all possible.
- The accelerator sticks
Quick action may help you get things under control here. Shift into neutral, which will stop the engine from powering the wheels. Doing this allows you to retain power steering and braking ability, so you can better control the car. You can try turning off the car (which will certainly slow it down), but it will be harder to control without power.
- A tire blows
The National Safety Commission advises drivers to not slam on the brakes. The car will want to veer toward the side of the bad tire, and braking can make it veer even more. Instead, concentrate on steering to the side of the road as you slow down gradually.
- An animal jumps into the road
There are more than a million collisions between vehicles and wildlife each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Be mindful whenever you’re driving, especially around dawn and dusk, which are high-activity times for large animals. If you encounter a deer, moose or other animal in the road, hit your brakes and sound your horn. Try not to swerve — serious injuries and fatalities often occur when cars make extreme maneuvers to avoid animals.
We hope you never encounter any of these situations. But, if you do, keep your cool and respond safely. If you are still nervous about these risks, look up defensive driving videos on Youtube – they are surprisingly helpful and reassuring. If something does happen, we’ll be here to help you through it!