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What to Do During a Vehicle Emergency

Your everyday commute can include minutes to hours of driving on familiar roads without incident. But there are incidents and circumstances we don’t always plan for, and it is best to have the knowledge necessary to handle yourself and your vehicle. When you encounter a vehicular emergency, it is imperative that you understand how to handle the emergency, particularly since emergencies seem to happen in the least desirable moments and circumstances.

Follow these guidelines for handling emergencies:

Steps to Take if Your Car Breaks Down

  1. If possible, park where your vehicle can be seen for 200 feet in each direction.
  2. Make sure all four wheels are off the pavement.
  3. Turn on your emergency flashers.
  4. Get all passengers out and away from traffic.
  5. Tie a white cloth on the left door handle or antenna.
  6. Raise your hood.

What to Do if Your Brakes are Wet

  1. Test brakes by tapping or pressing on them lightly after driving through deep water.
  2. Brakes may pull to one side or may not hold at all.
  3. Dry brakes by driving slowly in low gear and applying pressure to the brakes.

How to Handle a Tire Blowout

  1. Do not use your brakes.
  2. Do not take your foot off the gas pedal or release your cruise control.
  3. Concentrate on steering. Try to continue straight ahead as the car will pull in the direction of the flat.
  4. As you slow down gradually, begin moving toward the shoulder of the road.
  5. Brake softly when the car is under control.
  6. Pull completely off the pavement.
  7. Make sure you are far enough off the road when changing the tire so that you will not back up into or fall in front of moving traffic.
  8. If you can’t change the tire, call for help or follow the breakdown information covered earlier.

What to Do if Brakes Fail

  1. Once you notice the brake failure, quickly pump your brakes to try and use any residual pressure in the brakes.
  2. Take your foot off the gas pedal.
  3. Try shifting to a lower gear.
  4. Let wind resistance and drive train friction slow your vehicle down.
  5. Use your emergency brake if possible to control the brakes. If you have an emergency brake handle, keep the button on the end pressed down so the wheels will not lock up. If you do not know how to use your emergency brake, consult your owner’s manual.
  6. Look for something like a fence, a guardrail, or bushes on the side of the road to slow your car down by rubbing against it. It is important to pick something that will give way when you hit against it to reduce damage to the car and to you.

Once the car is stopped, do not drive it again until the brakes are fixed.

Power Steering Failure

  1. Don’t worry, you can still turn in the event of a power steering failure, it just will be difficult.
  2. Make sure you slow down and reduce the any sharp turns you need to make. The sharper the turn, the more effort it will require to turn the steering wheel.
  3. Get the steering system checked by an expert and have it repaired if necessary.

Remember, when you are driving, you may have only a fraction of a second to make the right move. So prepare yourself as best you can for the road ahead.