What to Do If Your Wheels Drop Off the Road
Your Tires Drop Off the Road – What Now?
If you’re driving along and one or two of your wheels drop off the pavement, you may not think much of it. What’s the big deal, right? You can just steer back onto the road, can’t you? Wrong! If you’re in this situation, what you DON’T do is as important as what you actually do. If you find yourself partially off the road, especially if the pavement is at least two inches higher up than the roadside, the situation can be dangerous. You could easily lose control of your car and crash, or even roll over, if you don’t follow the proper steps to get back on the road.
So What Do I Do?
First of all, don’t panic. Although you may be driving unevenly, you can get this situation under control. What you do next depends on the circumstances, but generally, these are the steps you will need to follow.
Continue to Look Ahead
Though it will be tempting to focus your attention on your now-off-road tires, it’s important that you don’t forget to keep paying attention to what’s in front of you. You could be approaching obstacles on the side of the road, so look straight ahead.
Carefully Steer Over
Steer your vehicle over so that you are straddling the pavement edge—this means your off-road tires will move away from the pavement, and your on-road tires will move to the edge of the pavement. The purpose of this is to keep your off-road tires from scrubbing the pavement edge. If these scrub against the pavement, it will make it harder for you to get back up onto the road.
Ease Off the Gas Pedal
You should begin to ease off the gas pedal; don’t slam on your brakes! Resist the urge to brake and instead allow your car to slow down on its own. If you must brake, do so very lightly. Hard braking when your tires are on two different surfaces can make your car skid.
Gradually begin to slow down to 25 MPH or lower before attempting to get back onto the road. Slowing to this speed will allow you to get all four wheels back on the pavement without losing control of your car.
Get Off the Road If Possible
If you’re able to (there are no obstacles in your way and you have enough room), drive completely off the road. Go as far over as you can so that it is safe to stop your vehicle. Then wait until you are clear to get back on the road.
Return to the Road When it’s Safe
There should at least be a gap in traffic before you go to get back on the road. Don’t try to return to the road if there are cars in your lane, in an adjacent lane, or an oncoming lane. Once the way is clear, turn your steering wheel approximately one-quarter turn to the left and drive back onto the road. As soon as all four of your tires are on the road, steer to the right so that you stay in your lane.
Call for Help If Necessary
If you’re unable to get back on the road safely, drive as far off the pavement as possible, then stop and call for help. AAA can be a good resource.