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5 Emergency Situations And How To Handle Them

Modified On Jul 21, 2014 04:53 PM By CarDekho

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What are the steps that a person needs to take in order to procure a driving license? Simple. Get yourself registered at nearest RTO centre, get your learner's license, train yourself from a good driving school for a month and get back to claim your permanent driver's license. However, No driving centre teaches you what to do when you face few common driving emergencies. We at CarDekho, have decided to take on this responsibility.

Let us discuss a few of the common mishaps that occur during everyday driving and how to ensure you come out of these mishaps with no broken bones or injuries to you or your car. We'll start with what gets your car rolling – the tyres. Tyre related emergencies are numerous and we have covered a few of them in our other articles too. Lets start with the blown tyre at high speeds.

1. Blown Tyre 

Lets assume you're cruising along the highway at a speed of 100km/h. You hear a sudden thud and your car wobbles and shudders. Yes, you've just blown a tyre. Now the most common reaction to this emergency is hard braking. Your average driver will instinctively brake hard in an attempt to stop the car and get off the road and to the side. Wrong move buddy! Attempting to steer a car with a blown tyre at a speed of 100km/h will almost certainly cause your car to veer off-course and possibly fish-tail, tumble upside down or skid out of control. 

Follow these simple steps 

  • Instead of hitting the brakes and trying to steer to the side, try to focus on keeping your car in a straight line.
  • Don't worry about the acceleration; a flat tyre produces enough drag force to slow down your car drastically by itself.
  • Maintain a straight course and keep a gentle foot on the brakes.
  • Once you have reached a lower speed (which will happen quickly enough because of the drag force) engage your turn signal and slowly & smoothly coast down to the side.
  • Also as an added precaution, if possible turn your car in the direction of the blown tyre. Meaning if your right tyre has blown up, turn towards the right side of the road. This makes the procedure safer. 

2. Tread Separation  

Tread separation is another common occurrence at high speeds. Remember, tread separation is different from a blown tyre and although the recovery process is similar, it is often the more dangerous of the two. Tread separation happens when the tread rubber coating and the underlying steel mesh belt come off the tyre partially or completely. Why is it more dangerous of the two? The reason for this is that once your tread has come off the tyre; the steel mesh will shred into several pieces and at high speeds might result into sheering through your brake lines, fender panels and even your passenger windows or fuel tank.

There are a few ways to distinguish a tread separation from a blown tyre:

  • If your tyre and tread are about to part ways, you will hear a consistent thumping noise which will progress to a slapping sound as more of the tread flies off your tyre.
  • If the tread is completely separated from the tyre then you will hear the steel mesh belt grinding on the road.
  • If you hear any of these sounds, slow down immediately and inspect the tyre.
  • If the damage is not much you can head straight to a tyre centre or strap on the spare in case of excessive damage.

However if you are at a high speed and feel that the tread is starting to come off, use the following procedure to safely come to a hault:

  • Keep even pressure on the accelerator and then release it slowly.
  • Maintain a straight steering course and avoid turning until you have reached a speed of about 30-40 kmph.
  • Apply as lil' pressure as possible on the brakes and allow the vehicle to simply coast down the road as much as possible. Avoid turning until you are at a speed of about 30-40 km/h. 
  • Engage your turn signal and slowly and smoothly turn to the side of the road.

3. Jammed Accelerator 

Although this is not a very common occurrence, it has been known to happen with faulty vehicles when the throttle gets jammed and your car turns into a speeding roller coaster. Now the first thing most people will do to deal with a stuck throttle is to ram their brakes as hard as possible. Although this manoeuvre will slow you down, it is potentially dangerous. 

Follow these steps if you face a situation where your car is accelerating on its own 

  • The first and foremost thing is to check if you aren't simply confusing the brakes with the throttle. Ensure that you are not depressing the throttle instead of the brakes.
  • Switch the gear to neutral or depress the clutch if you are in a manually geared vehicle. Do not worry if the engine keeps revving as most cars come with speed limiters that will prevent any damage to the car. 
  • As a last resort you may also try switching off the engine in an attempt to stop. However use this option only if you have exhausted the previous ones as most cars will become extremely hard to steer once the power steering system is disengaged. Also if you are in one of those new cars with push button engine start/stop system, you may not be able to avail this option. In that case you will be limited to only the first two options.

4. Loosing Traction 

Sometimes due to either worn tyres or bad road conditions, you may lose your car's traction and go into a spin or fishtail. Although spin outs are one of the worst possible driving related experiences, they can be controlled without overdue difficulty if you keep a few pointers in mind. Here's what to expect and do in case your vehicle looses traction.

  • The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is that you need to stay calm and not flood the accelerator or brake out of panic. Blindly slamming down on the throttle or brakes will only make matters worse and possibly end with you running into a barrier or a tree. Maintain you calm and you will be able to come out of the situation safe and sound.
  • Steering is the key to correcting any under-or-over-steer. Hang onto that steering wheel and remember to judge your counter-steer correctly. While counter-steering if you overdo it you may end-up making things worse. Calmy judge exactly how much counter-steer you need and in which direction.
  • Once you have decided which direction you will counter-steer in, you may either need to lightly step on either the brakes or the throttle. In most cases you will require a little acceleration to help you during the counter-steer. Remember again to maintain your calm and apply this procedure methodically.
  • NEVER slam the brakes right at the start of the spin-out as this will simply mean you are asking your tyres for extra traction when they are already taxed to their limit and cannot provide any. The best way is to simply counter-steer and accelerate out of the spin. 

5. Lack of ABS (Anti-Lock-Braking-System) 

If you happen to have an old car that does not have an ABS (Anti-Lock-Braking-System), chances are you will have trouble during emergency braking. An ABS feature helps ensure that if you slam onto your brakes very hard during an emergency stop they do not lock-up the wheels causing the tyres to skid. Now, if your vehicle is not equipped with an ABS; slamming the brakes will simply cause your tyres to lock-up resulting into skiding refraining you from steering off the obstacle. Furthermore, if you are buying a new car just opt for the ABS equipped version of the vehicle as most of the manufacturers nowadays offers ABS as standard or on top variants. However, in case your vehicle is not equipped with an ABS braking system apply the brakes cautiously. 

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