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For the most part, driving is enjoyable and safe. Cars are far safer than they used to be, with manufacturers learning from accidents of years gone by and improving standards to a huge degree. The science of keeping cars safe while driving has become so powerful, the modern driver could be forgiven for forgetting just how dangerous cars can be.
Even with all this innovation, sometimes it is helpful to be reminded that there’s no car in the world that’s accident-proof. If any manufacturer ever claims to have made an accident-proof car, then be doubtful; remember what they said about the Titanic? Just like it’s impossible to create an unsinkable ship, it’s impossible to create an infallible car. Emergencies can and do happen — the question is, would you know how to respond to them if you’re behind the wheel when they occur?
EMERGENCY: A Tire Blows Out
Having a tire blow out is a terrifying experience, but thankfully one that most drivers manage to navigate without much damage. How do you think you would react in such a situation?
The reason most drivers get through a tire blow out with nothing but a new tire required and a small auto repair bill to pay is because they react quickly. If you hear a tire blow out while driving, here’s how to handle it:
- Don’t brake.
- Keep your hands steady on the wheel and hold them firmly in place.
- Let the car slow itself by removing your foot from the gas.
- Pull over where it’s safe to do so.
Aquaplaning occurs when the surface is so wet, your car tires can no longer grip onto the road. The tires begin to spin, seeking traction, but getting none; your car then begins to drift, unable to find any grip on the road. It’s a dangerous circumstance that can and does lead to accidents. Even though it’s fairly rare to experience due to the individual conditions required for it to occur, you’ll be a better driver when you know how to handle it:
- Leave the pedals alone; don’t brake and don’t accelerate.
- Gently steer — more nudging than yanking the wheel — the car in the direction you want it to move. Don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t initially respond.
It’s worth remembering that prevention is better than cure when it comes to aquaplaning. Check your tire pressure regularly, with extra checks on the tire tread if you’re going to be driving through wet conditions.
Finally, the most common emergency: skidding. Ice, mud, or just wet ground can be the cause of a skid. Here’s a quick refresher on how to manage the situation:
- As with the first two examples, take your feet off both the brake and the gas.
- Steer into the same direction as the skid.
- The car may then react by skidding in the opposite direction. Once again, you repeat the same steps and stir into the skid.
- The car should now right itself.
Skidding is more likely in winter, so remember to use snow chains if the weather is particularly foul.
By brushing up your knowledge on these potential driving problems, your time spent behind the wheel will be safer than ever.
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