Safety Tips

DRIVING SAFETY TIPS

HOW TO DEAL WITH AGGRESSIVE DRIVERS

  • dotMake every attempt to safely move out of the aggressive driver's way.

  • dotDo not challenge an aggressive driver by speeding up or attempting to "hold your own" in the travel lane.

  • dotAlways wear your seat belt -- not only will it hold you in your seat and behind the wheel in case you need to make an abrupt driving maneuver, but it will also protect you in a crash.

  • dotAvoid eye contact with the aggressive driver.

  • dotIgnore gestures, and refuse to return them.

  • dotReport aggressive drivers to the appropriate authorities by providing a vehicle description, license number, location, and if possible, direction of travel.

  • dotIf you have a cellular phone, and can use it while driving safely, call the police. Many have special numbers such as 9-1-1.

  • dotIf an aggressive driver is involved in a crash farther down the road, stop at a safe distance from the crash scene, wait for the police to arrive, and report the driving behavior that you witnessed.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR GAS PEDAL STICKS

  • dotTap the gas pedal to try to unstick the throttle linkage.

  • dotHook your toe under the pedal to try and free it.

  • dotShift to neutral and apply firm pressure to the brakes without locking the wheels.

  • dotFind a safe place to move the vehicle completely off the road.

  • dot If your automobile has power steering or a locking steering wheel, do not turn off the ignition or you will lose either your power steering, or the ability to steer.

  • dotHave your vehicle checked with a mechanic as soon as possible.

WHAT TO DO DURING A TIRE BLOWOUT

The goal in any rapid loss of tire pressure or "blowout" is to keep the vehicle balanced and controllable. Do not panic. Any over-reaction by the driver -- including slamming on the brakes or abruptly removing your foot from the accelerator -- can result in a loss of vehicle control.

In any blowout situation, it's most important to first remember the 2 things you should NOT do: Do not step on the brake. As instinctive as it may be, it's the worst mistake you can make in any tire blowout situation. Applying the brakes will cause an even greater imbalance on the vehicle's stability. Do not abruptly release your foot from the accelerator. This is the second worst mistake you can make. Rapidly releasing the accelerator causes the vehicle to transfer more of its weight from the rear tires to the front tires. With a flat tire, this can lead to loss of control of the vehicle.

Instead, in any blowout situation, you should follow these 3 steps:

  • 1. Gradually release the accelerator.

  • 2. Correct the steering as necessary to stabilize your vehicle and regain control. Look where you want the vehicle to go and steer in that direction.

  • 3. Once your vehicle has stabilized, continue to slow down and pull off the road where and when you judge it's safe to do so.

  • Remember, no matter which tire blows out -- front or back -- the do's and don'ts for safely maintaining control of your vehicle are exactly the same. The only difference between a front and rear tire blowout is that you will feel the force of a front blowout more in the vehicle's steering, while you'll feel a rear blowout more in the seat or body of the vehicle.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE A BREAKDOWN

  • dotMove the vehicle to the right side of the road out of the flow of traffic, if possible. Stopping on the left side of a divided highway is extremely dangerous but sometimes unavoidable. Do not leave the vehicle stopped in a traffic lane.

  • dotMove the vehicle as far away from the traveled portion of the roadway as you can. At the very least you should be far enough away that you can open the door without stepping out into traffic. You also want to be visible enough so that people can see you.

  • dot Show clear signs that there is a problem and you need assistance by raising the vehicle hood. This is an internationally recognized sign of distress.

  • dotIn addition, turn on your emergency flashers and display any signs you have that indicate you need help (such as shade screens with distress messages).

  • dotIf you remain with the vehicle, another motorist will likely report your disabled vehicle to the police, and it will be easier for the police or others to provide assistance.

  • dotAlways exit the vehicle by the passenger side, unless you are on the left side of a divided highway.

  • dotDo not allow passengers to remain in the vehicle.

  • dot Stay off of the road and away from the vehicle and do not stand in front of or to the rear of the vehicle.

  • dotDo not attempt to make repairs on a vehicle while it is in an area exposed to other traffic.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BRAKES FAIL

  • Shift into a lower gear, release the clutch pedal (for manual transmissions) and apply the emergency brake.
    If your automobile has an automatic transmission, apply the emergency brake and move the gear lever into the low range position. (Be Advised: This action can potentially cause damage to the emergency brake and to the transmission, but under the circumstances of brake failure, there is no better choice.)

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BRAKES BECOME WET

  • dotDrive the vehicle a short distance

  • dotApply light pressure to the brake pedal.

  • dotThe heat generated by the friction of the brakes against the brake drum will evaporate the water from the brake linings.

  • dotTo prevent excessive wear on brakes when moving down a long hill or steep grade, use a lower gear instead of the brake pedal to control speed. Shift to the lower gear at the top of the hill, before you descend.

* Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Department of Transportation