One of the most important driving tips I can share with you is to always have an escape route. You should always assume the worst will happen and be prepared for it.
Constantly ask yourself questions and make up possible scenarios in your head. Some examples:
- What if the driver in front of you slams on his brakes for no apparent reason (an animal runs into the roadway, blows a tire, etc.)?
- What if the approaching vehicle drifts into your lane?
- Will somebody run the red light or stop sign up ahead?
You should constantly be mentally asking yourself these kinds of questions while you drive. We already do this subconsciously, but thinking the situation through will make you much safer.
Unfortunately, you are forced to share the road with people who don’t take driving safety seriously. That’s why you must always leave yourself an out in case the worst happens. Having an escape plan is crucial to your safety.
Leaving Yourself An Out
As a real-world example, you should try not to drive directly next to somebody. If someone pulls up beside you and matches their speed to yours, either speed up or slow down so that the lane next to you is clear. That way, if you need to swerve somewhere, you have a place to go. What if you can’t use the lane next to you? Where will you go if something happens? Maybe the shoulder is an option. If not, you might need to increase your following distance so you have some additional stopping distance. Again, always have a plan!
Establish And Maintain A Buffer Zone
If you re far enough behind the vehicle in front of you, swerving probably won’t even be necessary. Swerving should actually be a last resort and if you are forced to swerve, that means you were following too closely. But you should always give yourself options. Have more than one escape route whenever possible. That means not only keeping a safe following distance, but also keeping the side of your vehicle free from obstructions.
Preparing For The Driving Emergency That Will Happen To You!
I hate to give you the bad news, but a driving emergency will, without a doubt, happen to you. Every driver has one of those moments where they must slam on the brakes, swerve to avoid a collision, or simply have a near miss. But the difference between a near miss and an actual collision largely rests in your hands.
Here are three common driving emergencies you can prepare for and how to react to them:
When your tire blows out. This emergency is one of the most common ones that drivers may encounter at least once in their driving experience. What to do if it happens to you is to simply grip the steering wheel tightly. Use both hands as this will prevent your car from swerving as the air leaves your tire.
Most people slam on their brakes when this happens. Don’t do that! Instead, slowly accelerate to maintain your speed before taking your foot off the gas. This move will let the car slow naturally. Then you can turn on your hazard lights, safely pull over, and gently brake after you’ve slowed down to 25 mph.
When your car hydroplanes. This is one of the most dangerous driving conditions that can happen to any driver. It occurs when your car’s tires lose contact with the surface of the road because of water. It doesn’t matter whether it lasts for an instant or several seconds, when this happens, it means that you’ve lost all the available traction.
Most drivers feel the need to hit the brakes when this happens. Don’t do that! You must resist the urge to hit the brakes at all costs. Instead, carefully take your foot off your accelerator. Keep calm and look round. Slowly steer in the direction that you want to go. No matter what happens, don’t panic. If you feel like you’re still skidding, simply tap the brakes gently until you reach the point where you feel it’s safe and you reimagined traction.
When your brakes stop working. Another common, and really dangerous situation! There’s a high percentage of getting into accidents when this happens to you, especially if you’re speeding. This causes people to panic and quickly hit on their brakes. At times, this can end up in more dangerous situations.
What you can do here is first, try pumping the brake pedal – gently. Don’t overreact, especially if you’re at high speed. Give your car some time to slow down and shift into neutral or lower gear. This will lessen the impact in case of a collision. If you need a faster response, you can gently engage your parking brake until your car slows down.
You can also look for external aid. If you are driving somewhere where there are guardrails, you can use it and gently nudge your car against it. The friction will slow your car down. Although your car may incur some damage, you may at least avoid a crash.
Drive Like A Pro
The best professional drivers and emergency responders are taught to plan for the unexpected and you should do the same. Sooner or later in your driving career, something unexpected will happen. You can prepare for unexpected situations and be wrong as many times as you’d like. But all it takes is to be right once to save yourself time, money, headache, injury, lawsuits, and possibly even your life or the life of a loved one.
By properly looking as far ahead as possible to spot potential hazards, shifting your eyes and getting the big picture without fixating on anything, and always having a plan in case the unexpected occurs, you can’t help but to be a safer driver.