As a Christian injury attorney, I see the aftermath of tragic car crashes every week. There are a few common accidents that you can either avoid or mitigate if you know what to do.
Avoid Overcorrection: We all have heard and felt that sudden rumbling of our wheels running off onto the gravel shoulder. The steering wheel jerks to the right, and what is our instinct? Jerk back to the left with all our might! This is called “overcorrection.” Especially with younger drivers, the panicked jerking back to the left will often cause the car to turn sideways and roll or flip, sometimes with roof-crushing results. The fix? Ride it out, and gently ease back onto the pavement. We have been driving on gravel roads for 100 years, so two wheels on it for a few seconds is no need to panic and cause a car accident.
Blowout Reaction: The “Boom” and instability of a blowout at speed induces panic in all of us. Remember though, that control of the car is best achieved through steering and not emergency braking. Like the overcorrection issue before, quick braking or turning can easily cause a fatal rollover. Ride it out to the shoulder as best you can.
Avoid Hydroplaning: When you steer, but nothing happens, you might be on black ice, or hydroplaning. When the water on the road lifts off your steering tires and you lose contact with the pavement it is called “hydroplaning.” Just ease off the gas and it should let the wheels grip again. If you feel unsure in the rain, consider a tire brand made for better rain disbursement.
Mechanical failures: If your car continues to accelerate uncontrollably, get the car out of gear. In a manual, simply press the clutch to the floor and brake. If you are in an automatic transmission, shift into Neutral (“N”) and brake. Your engine may be noisy, but your car is easier to replace than you are. Once stopped, you can shut the car off, and shift back into Park. If you lose brakes, follow the above steps to get the car out of gear, and trying pumping the brakes all you can as you come to a stop.
Sometimes, such as with a high speed brake failure, a car jacking situation or a head on drunk driver in your lane, you may even have to crash on purpose!
Hopefully, this information will never be needed in your home, but if you are teaching kids to drive, please simulate these emergency situations in a safe place. When panic sets in, you only have time for one reaction, so let’s make it the safest one and hopefully avoid a car accident.