A Primer On Emergency Maneuvers – Part I

The best way to avoid having to use emergency maneuver is to avoid the emergency in the first place. Safe driving, effective hazard detection techniques, and preventative maintenance can all go a long way in making sure you don’t get caught in an unwanted emergency situation.
That being said, there may be a time where you can’t avoid an emergency situation. After all, you can’t control what people around you on the road are doing. Or perhaps your driving in a low visibility situation. These are all instances when you will have to engage in emergency maneuvers. So let’s talk about what you’ll do if you get caught in one of those situations.

Evasive Steering
In most cases steering to avoid an emergency is safer than trying to stop on a dime. If there is an opening available for you to maneuver into, steering into it gives you a greater chance of avoiding the collision than attempting to stop.
The two most common routes you might escape into are either another lane of traffic or the shoulder of the road. If another lane is available, making a quick lane change would be the best route. If there is a vehicle in another lane and the shoulder is not inaccessible, move to it.
Evasive steering, when done correctly, is a safe way to get out of a hairy situation. You’ll get the best results, however, when you are hauling secured cargo with a low center of gravity.

Emergency Stopping
We put evasive steering first is because over application of the breaks could lock up your vehicle’s wheels and potentially cause you to skid or jackknife. You could also lose control of the vehicle. Emergency braking, when done right, will allow you to bring your vehicle to a stop without losing control of it.

There are two main types of emergency breaking techniques:

  •  Controlled braking: With controlled breaking, you apply a smooth and steady pressure to the breaks, applying them just short of them locking up. Since it is difficult to know exactly when the breaks will lock up, you’ll want to develop this skill carefully.
  • Stab braking: When you are stab braking, you’ll want to fully apply the brakes. But you’ll want to immediately partially release the brake pedal as soon as the wheels lock. Hitting the brakes achieves stoppage, but releasing and backing off for a moment avoids a skid. You want to make sure each wheel gets to rolling again between each skid.

You aren’t the only one on the road. You will have to deal with other drivers and in many cases an emergency maneuver may result in their actions. Here’s what you need to do when you are in emergency situations where other vehicles are involved.

Oncoming Vehicle
If you have a vehicle coming up fast, you’ll want to immediately steer to the right. Also make sure to sound your horn to get the driver’s attention. Doing so may get the driver’s attention.

Stopped Vehicle
If the left lane is clear, turn into it. If the left lane is not clear, make sure the right lane is clear, as the shoulder may be blocked.
If you are in the middle of a multi-lane highway or road, steer into the lane that presents the least danger. Otherwise, always try to evade to the right. Just in case another vehicle is involved, it’s better to force them on to the shoulder than into oncoming traffic.

Merging Vehicle Obviously, the first thing you’ll want to do is sound the horn to get the driver’s attention. Most of the time this will work, but if the vehicle continues to merge, swerve away from it. Avoid trying to steer behind it.

Above all, never steer away from a merging vehicle if doing so will put you into the path of oncoming traffic. You’re better off colliding at an angle with the merging vehicle than you would be if you were to swerve into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Join us next week for part two of our emergency maneuver primer course. We will dig into off-road recovery, brake failure, and blowouts!