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Road Emergencies are unpredictable

BY T.K. Malhotra

The 21st Century and in particular how has it begun, has brought us unimagined
progress in technology, and mobility. No one could have imagined in the 1920s just how personal, or how essential, the motor car would be as it is today, in all its wondrous variety? It was a dream to realize to find mobile phones and internet rushing into our daily lives in a fraction of time it took for the telephone or the television to become common place. It is all very exciting and gives us a breathtaking feeling when we wonder just where it all might lead to it. And yet it can be breathtaking that we just get swept along in the current, or even swept away by the tidal wave generated by the developments. If that happens, the very ground we walk on – among other things we take for granted, such as our livelihood – can no longer be counted upon. We become dinosaurs and are doomed for extinction!

Needless to say, this does not have to be so inevitable. By collective working, predicting a logical future in good time, teaming up in international cooperation, automobile associations can hit back, protect their members and ensure their safety on road.

Road emergencies and accidents are often unpredictable. All kinds of emergencies can hardly be recognised but some of the common ones as indicated below can be handled by following the corrective action. Let’s look at it:

You are enjoying your drive with your new generation car, which is smoother and responsive. Suddenly you are driven to a collision situation by a vehicle from the opposite lane swerving directly into your path. What should you do?

A panic reaction may prove disastrous. Your very survival may depend on your ability to stay calm and your knowledge of the best defensive action to react. An emergency driving situation cannot be practiced but surely you can develop the skill and know-how beforehand. You must visualise as far as you can in advance the emergencies that might confront you and mentally plan the defensive action in situation:

Brake Failure

You step on the brake and the brake pedal slaps freely on the floor. It’s a terrifying experience. At this point of time, you ought to keep your cool. If there is any resistance, pump the pedal up and down and or gently apply the hand brake. You may be able to work-up enough pressure to reduce the velocity of the vehicle. If there is no pressure and the road is clear ahead, shift to a lower gear and look for an escape route. It’s better to drop your speed by brushing against the road side bushes and guard rails. Your car might get damaged but at least you’ll avoid a head-on-collision. At the same time, use your horn or lights to warn other drivers and pedestrians that you are out of control.

Accelerator sticks

You are having a perfectly normal drive, looking ahead, you anticipate a little problem and decide to drop your speed. You let up on the gas pedal and nothing happens. Keep cool – it is not at all difficult to handle this emergency. It you are on open road and there is plenty of clearness ahead, try to pull the pedal up with the toe of your shoe. Do not bend down to reach the pedal so as not to take your attention off the road. If there is no time, simply turn off the ignition and brake to a stop. This may however be difficult if your vehicle has power brakes and steering. So, be prepared for the stiffness and bear down. If a quick stop or maneuvering is necessary, you can leave the power on and shift into neutral or do press the clutch. Stop quickly and shut off the engine.

Tyre Blow-out

You hear a burst and your vehicle tends to lose its balance; you can be quite sure that your tyre has blown out. Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and do not over steer to correct any swerve or pull. If the front tyre blows out, the vehicle will tend to pull towards the side of the blow-out. If the rear tyre bursts, the vehicle will have a tendency to weave. Apply your brakes gently and move off the road if possible. Do not slam on the brakes as this may throw you into a spin or out of control. Get into the road shoulder or go along until you find a place level enough to change the tyre safely. Take care that no obstruction is caused to other road users. When changing tyre whether by day or night, you ought to turn on your hazard lights and display a breakdown sign. This sign must be placed 10 meters away from your vehicle to warn other motorists and as courtesy in the spirit of road safety.

Handling an emergency successfully depends entirely on you. Regular inspection and servicing of the vehicle prevents emergencies arising of mechanical failure. If your mind is not on the road, the emergency, when it happens, might get better of you – Take care !