Driving Emergencies That Every Car Owner Should Know How To Handle

At the time of earning a permanent four-wheeler driving license, the individual is not subjected to any tests that show his proficiency in managing emergency situations. The only tests mandated for the driving license include an assessment of the individual’s ability to drive on the roads, take turns skillfully in a vacant ground, and park the vehicle without any hassles. It is a fact that if some of these registered drivers are asked to demonstrate their ability to avoid an accident, lives may be on the line!

Here, we have distilled some tips that will help you in addressing an emergency while on the roads. You will need practice to ensure that you are able to act in the right way when faced with any of these emergencies.

Emergency 1 - Car breakdown:

In case your car breaks down while you are driving, see if it is possible to move the vehicle to the roadside from where it can be seen for around 200 feet in each direction.

  • Ensure that all four wheels are away from the pavement.
  • It is a good idea to turn on your emergency flashers to attract attention.
  • You should also get all the passengers out of the vehicle, and away from the traffic.
  • You can raise the hood and tie a white cloth on the left door antenna or handle to show that you are in distress.

The Roadside Assistance cover offered under your motor insurance policy is a worthwhile addition to your car insurance coverage. It may be available as an add-on cover that has to be taken separately by paying extra premium. The insurance company will offer you assistance in getting a mechanic to check the vehicle. This service is usually available on a 24-hour basis as well.

Emergency 2 - Failure Of Brakes:

In case your brakes are wet, you can test it by pressing lightly right after you have driven through deep water. You may observe that the brakes are not holding or they may pull to one side. You should dry the brakes by moving slowly in a lower gear and then gradually applying pressure on the brakes.

A brake failure happens when your brake pads are worn out completely. Overheating may also cause the braking ability to cease. In case you have noticed that your brakes are screeching, it is time to get the pads changed. In an emergency brake failure situation, you can keep pumping your brakes pedal as it may be a case of lost pressure in the brakes. Pumping will help you slow down the vehicle as well.

In case pumping does not slow down the car, you can downshift the gear or shift into neutral gear. The speed will come down till the vehicle halts completely. You can also use the parking brake for the same purpose. Using a hand brake will make the job easier; a foot parking brake serves well for this purpose too. You should remember to depress or pull the brake gently, as jerking it can result in loss of control over the vehicle.

If everything else fails, you can consider driving very close to something like a guardrail, in order to bring down the speed of the vehicle. Yes, your car will look like a mess at the end of it, but doing this is much better than getting into a head-on collision with another car.

Emergency 3 - Tyre Blowout:

In case you experience a tyre blowout, you should refrain from using your brakes. Release the accelerator slowly and focus on steering the vehicle towards the front. You should ideally slow down and brake slowly when you know that the vehicle is under control.

Ensure that you pull the car completely off the pavement and do not cause a traffic obstruction when you change the tyre of the car. In case you are unable to change the tyre, you can call for help. As indicated above, a Roadside Assistance cover can come in handy during such an event.

Emergency 4 - Power Steering Failure:

In case the power steering of your vehicle fails, you will still have control over the direction in which the car travels. But it will be difficult to get the steering wheel to turn.

  • You should slow the vehicle down and refrain from taking sharp turns. The sharper the turn you are taking, the more is the effort.
  • Get the vehicle’s power steering system inspected by an expert. You should get the necessary repair work done before the vehicle is used again.

Emergency 5 - Engine Overheating:

Your car’s engine will overheat if there is an issue with the drivetrain or the cooling system. In case your vehicle overheats in the midst of heavy traffic, it is wise to pull over to the side of the road and let the vehicle cool down. After you have parked in a safe place, give at least 30 minutes for your vehicle’s engine to cool down before replacing the fluids or checking the issue. Trying to fix the problem any sooner can have bad repercussions.

Emergency 6 - Skidding Out Of Control:

Wet leaves, winter ice, and water on roadways can invite danger and cause your car to skid. A skid is usually caused when the front wheels lose traction. In case you experience that your car is sliding with the side of the driver at an angle towards the road ahead, you should steer the vehicle towards the front. Refrain from slamming the brakes, as this will cause the transfer of weight to the front of the car. The rear would also start skidding and make the issue worse.

You should just focus on taking your foot off the accelerator showly. In case you are unable to regain control, gently press the brakes.

Emergency 7 - Submerged Vehicle:

The possibility of a person ending up in a submerged vehicle is relatively higher if he/she lives close to large water bodies. If you are in a vehicle that is headed down into the water, you should check if your doors and windows will open. Time is very important in this scenario, and you should not panic at any cost. Follow the steps mentioned below to create a safe exit path from a submerged car:

  • If the level of water is not above the windows as yet, try to force down the windows of the car. You can then escape from the windows before the vehicle is completely submerged.
  • Remove the seat belt immediately. In case the seat belt is jammed, you may have to cut it to free yourself. In case you have children or older passengers, you should help them first.
  • Once the car is completely submerged, you may find it difficult to open any windows. You can break open a side window using a rescue tool as soon as the water level goes above it. Take deep breaths before escaping from the vehicle.
  • You are likely to float up towards the surface of the vehicle if you have taken deep breaths. You can also try swimming towards the surface of the water, holding on to the children or the elderly.

You may be someone who concentrates on the road while driving, but you may still find yourself in an emergency. You should always have a plan of attack, not a panic attack. Having an emergency kit in the car is useful in tiding you through breakdowns and accidents. Also monitor your vehicle regularly and don’t ignore the warning signs, particularly the warning lights. It also helps to have basic knowledge on how you can jump-start a dead battery or get your car out of a rut. Knowledge on how you can change a flat tyre and the do’s and dont’s in an emergency accident are imperative as well.

It is worthwhile to think about various emergency situations and how you will handle them. This way, you will not panic as much and are likely to take the right decisions if they really happen.

GST Update: GST of 18% is applicable on car insurance effective from the 1st of July, 2017

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