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The first rule of the road is to expect the unexpected. The second rule is to be ready for whatever happens — and that includes emergencies. Here is a list of common emergencies that can happen while you’re driving, and suggestions for how to handle them safely:

  1. Tire blows out. Keep a firm grip on the wheel to maintain direction until you slow down; don’t over steer. A blown front tire will pull the vehicle to the blowout side, and a rear blowout will cause the rear end to weave. Never jam on the brakes, or you might cause a spin. Brake smoothly and drive slowly until you can pull safely to the side of the road and change the tire.
  2. Headlights go out. Steer as straight as you can until you can brake to a stop. Ease onto the shoulder as far from traffic as possible. Set out flares or place road hazard markers and turn on the emergency flashers if they are still working. Scrape the lead terminal posts on the battery cables and the inside of the connector lugs to make a better connection. If only the headlights are out, the circuit breaker might have opened. It should continue to open and close, giving enough intermittent light so you can get to a service station. If emergency four-way flashers are on another circuit, turn them on for intermittent light.
  3. Engine quits. Signal a right turn and try to use the vehicle’s momentum to coast off the road and on to the shoulder. If this is not possible, stay in your lane or as far to the right as possible and pump the brakes to alert drivers in the cars behind you. Turn on your emergency flashers. After coming to a stop, wait for a break in traffic to exit the vehicle. If possible, exit from the side away from traffic flow. Put out flares or reflectors at least 300 feet behind your vehicle. Keep taillights on, raise the engine hood and tie a white cloth to the radio antenna or left door handle as a distress signal. If you are unable to make repairs, flag down a cruising highway patrol car, or use your cell phone to call for assistance.
  4. Accelerator sticks. If a quick stop is necessary, turn off the ignition and brake to a stop. Your power assist will go off, so steering and braking will require effort. If there is a positive connection between the pedal and throttle linkage, try lifting the pedal with your toe. Don’t lean down to do it by hand.
  5. Vehicle skids. DON’T OVER STEER AND DON’T HIT THE BRAKES. Take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction of the skid until the rear wheels regain traction. Then straighten the wheels. Never jam on the brakes when the skid begins. To stop quickly without skidding to one side, rapidly jab and release the brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes in your vehicle, keep your foot on the brake. Maintain firm and continuous pressure on the brake while steering.
  6. Brakes fail. If the brakes offer any resistance at all, pump rapidly. This might build up enough hydraulic pressure to slow down the car. If the road ahead is clear, coast in drive and then use the parking brake. Use your horn. If it’s nighttime, flash your lights to warn other motorists and pedestrians that you’re out of control. If you’re on a steep downward grade look for something to sideswipe like roadside hedges, a snow bank, a guardrail or parked cars. If your system light indicates a brake failure, either the front or rear of your brake system is not functioning properly. If this occurs but the brakes seem to be working, proceed at a reduced speed to the nearest repair facility and have the condition checked.
  7. You’re on a head-on collision course. Brake hard and steer for the right shoulder. If time permits, blow the horn. If necessary, drive on to open ground or into a ditch on the right. Don’t try to swerve to the left of the oncoming car, because the driver of that car may recover and instinctively steer back into the correct lane, and hit you straight on.

When you’re in a driving emergency situation, it’s difficult to think clearly about how to handle the challenge. By familiarizing yourself with these safety suggestions beforehand, and discussing them with other drivers in your family, you’ll increase your — and their — chances of safely coming out of a driving emergency.

C & E Insurance and Financial Services
7324 Holabird Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21222

Posted 1:56 PM

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