Sorry, but the focus of this article is not to teach people how to gawk at an automobile accident they may have witnessed. Rubberneckers who drive at a snail’s pace to stare at a wreck could even cause their own emergency, but that is not one of the five things included on this list.
We will assume that everyone knows to pull over to the side of the road and call 999 in the case of an emergency and that most drivers have access to a cell phone or a device to call for help. Our list of emergency driving situations begins with:
- Rain – This is the most common occurrence that will make driving more difficult if not impossible. The main reason is that the friction between the tire and road drops when the road is wet. An experienced driver will know how to steer into a skid instead of fighting it and will make sure that the tires are in good condition and properly inflated. It is also important to have windshield wipers that can wipe the glass clear, allowing you to maintain good visibility.
- Snow and Ice–Slick, icy roads can convert a simple skid into a “fishtailing” event where the rear of the car slides back and forth as you try to compromise with the steering wheel. The tire to road friction drops even more compared to liquid rain. In addition to the condition of the tires and windshield wipers, the speed of the vehicle and the skill of the driver will determine if you arrive at your destination safely. Slow down and pull over if conditions become undrivable.
- Fog – This is the leading cause of those chain-reaction accidents involving hundreds of vehicles that one reads about on California Highways. In the UK the weather phenomenon is also prevalent at certain points during the year. Visibility can drop to zero making the cars in front of you invisible. Aside from getting off the road until the fog lifts, the best way to drive in fog is to drive slowly and use the fog lights on your vehicle. Don’t make any sudden stops as you are invisible to the car behind you as well.
- Breakdown – This can be a frightening experience for someone on an isolated road in the middle of “nowhere”. The first action is to get your car safely off the road into a place where it can be easily towed if a roadside repair is not possible. Then, make a 999 call, stay near your car and wait for help. If the battery has any charge, keep the hazard lights blinking to draw attention.In the event that hazard lights cannot be activated, you should ensure that another form of emergency vehicle lighting is deployed; be it an emergency lightbar, or flashing beacon. If approached by a stranger, stay in your locked car until you have assurance that the person has good intent. A better solution is to be proactive and join an automobile club that offers roadside assistance. The yearly fee is well worth it as towing and roadside repairs are costly.
- Illness – This is our final emergency driving situation.If you have a chronic illness that hinders your driving, the best solution is not to drive in the first place. If you choose to drive, make sure you do not travel alone. Be sure to map out medical care facilities, clinics and hospitals before you travel so you know where to drive if you suddenly get ill while on the road.