Sometimes, Missouri car accidents simply can't be avoided, but the vast majority of crashes are entirely preventable. It's important to be aware that certain roadway scenarios commonly cause drivers to panic and react without thinking, making crashes even more likely. Knowing what to do in these situations can be lifesaving - for you, your passengers, and other motorists on the road. In this post, our Cape Girardeau personal injury lawyers discuss three common driving emergencies and offer some tips to help you handle these scenarios safely.
Driving Emergency #1: Deer
Most Missouri drivers know that colliding with a deer can be extremely dangerous. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that approximately 275,000 car/deer collisions occur in the U.S. every year, and an average 200 people are killed as a result of these accidents. Car/deer collisions tend to be most common during deer mating season in November, which is just around the corner. If you see a deer along the road, your best bet is to slow down: deer tend to travel in groups, so if there's one in the area, you can assume others are nearby.
So, what do you do if a deer darts in front of your vehicle? Safety experts say that it's often best to hit the deer, rather than jerking the wheel instinctively and swerving out of your lane: trying to avoid the deer can cause a rollover accident or a collision with another object, like a vehicle or tree. If impact can't be avoided, stay calm, grip the steering wheel with both hands, apply the brakes firmly, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.
Driving Emergency #2: Tire blowout
A tire blowout can be extremely frightening, which is why many drivers panic and react poorly - often by slamming on the brakes. If you experience tire trouble, resist the impulse to brake suddenly: instead, ease off the accelerator and allow your vehicle to slow down gradually. Then, gently steer your vehicle to the side of the road.
After slowing, the NSC recommends rolling the car off the road rather than stopping in the middle of traffic and risking a rear-end or side-impact collision. Be sure to turn on your emergency flashers. If you can change the tire safely, do so - if not, you should call for assistance. As the NSC points out, "changing a tire with traffic whizzing past can be nerve-wracking at best and dangerous at worst."
Driving Emergency #3: Skidding
Turning abruptly, changing lanes suddenly and hard braking can cause your vehicle to skid - especially when these maneuvers are attempted at higher speeds or on slippery roads. Safety authorities agree that the best way to handle this scenario is remove your foot from the gas. Then, instead of yanking the wheel in the opposite direction (which can lead to over-correction), turn gently in the direction you want the vehicle to go, taking care not to over-steer.
When you feel your vehicle regain traction on the roadway surface, straighten out your wheels. Again, the key is to stay calm and work to bring your vehicle under control.