No matter how safely you drive, scary situations are inevitable when sharing the road with others. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents remain one of the top causes of death and injury in the United States, causing tens of thousands of deaths and millions of injuries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, being prepared and knowing what to do when you are faced with a scary situation on the road can keep yourself and others safe.
People with road rage are out there. When you encounter a person who is driving aggressively, it is important that you take precautions in order to avoid angering them. When driving, keep the following tips in mind to avoid antagonizing other drivers or becoming an aggressive driver yourself:
If a driver is tailgating you or driving erratically, move over and let them pass you.
Don’t challenge other drivers. Even if you are “in the right”, it’s not worth putting your safety and the safety of others at risk to prove so.
Don’t drive while angry. Calm yourself down before driving, and don’t get angry about things like traffic and then take it out on other drivers.
Plan your trip ahead of time and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.
When driving in wet weather, there is always a risk of your car hydroplaning, which occurs when your car tires lose contact with the road due to standing water. If you find yourself at the wheel of a hydroplaning car, make sure that first, you don’t panic, and instead take the following steps to regain control:
Ease off the accelerator pedal, apply gradual pressure to the brakes, and gently steer in the direction you want the car to go.
When your tires regain traction, you will have control of your vehicle again.
Avoid overcorrecting your steering wheel. This can lead to losing control and crashing or even rolling your car.
Witnessing a Crash
Crashes can be terrifying to witness, even if you aren’t involved. Like the other situations we have covered, it’s important to remain calm and not panic. If you witnessed a crash but were not involved, do the following:
Put on your hazard lights and pull over if it is safe to do so. It is recommended that you pull over at least 100 feet from the scene to avoid putting yourself in danger of damaging your car in case of fire or leaking fluids.
Call 911, even if the crash isn’t severe. You should never assume that someone else has already dialed 911. If they have already been notified, the dispatcher will let you know.
If it is safe, get out of your car and check on the victims. People involved in a crash will likely be disoriented and full of adrenaline, so they may not even realize they are hurt. Ask them if everyone is okay, and try to keep them calm.
If the crash isn’t severe, try to help get the cars stabilized and out of the way of traffic in order to avoid another crash from happening.
Once authorities arrive, stay on the scene in order to give a statement and report exactly what you saw. When giving your statement, be honest and consistent with your facts. You will likely be asked to provide your information so that authorities and/or insurance companies can contact you if they have further questions about the incident.
Obstacles in the Road
Whether it’s a tree, a piece of furniture, an animal, or even a person, sometimes things end up on the road that aren’t supposed to be there. Always pay attention to the road and your surroundings while driving. If you do encounter an obstacle in the path of your vehicle, you will need to do some quick decision making in order to determine the best course of action.
By paying attention to your surroundings, you avoid having to make a last-minute action out of panic that could result in injury or death to yourself or others. Keep check of other cars around you, your speed, and road conditions. Having these in the back of your mind can help you when deciding what the safest course of action is to avoid hitting the obstacle in your path.
Depending on the object, your speed, and your surroundings, sometimes the best course of action is to proceed forward. It’s better to run over a bunch of nails on the highway than to swerve over suddenly and smash into other cars.
Be Prepared with Defensive Driving
No matter what, always strive to drive defensively. Pay attention to your surroundings and try to anticipate the mistakes other drivers may make. This way, when things do happen on the road, you are prepared to remain calm and do your best to avoid a bad situation.