As many people prepare for a long journey for Christmas, it’s always worth keeping in mind that sometimes things happen outside our control, some of which can lead to risky situations, but if we are prepared then the risk can be minimised, and so this week we are going to have a look at some of the most common emergencies, and how to deal with them.
According to the Professional Association of Training Companies in Road Safety (Formaster), 60% of drivers do not know how to react to unforeseen driving situations, despite the fact many of them are covered in our driver training, when events don’t occur on a regular basis we can easily forget.
When and how to stop in a breakdown or emergency
Most drivers know about the hazard lights on a car, although it is important to familiarise yourself with the button if you are not used to the vehicle. However, in the event of a breakdown or emergency the hazard lights must also be accompanied by the use o warning triangles. One at the back and one at the front if you are on a road where traffic moved in both directions. The triangles must be placed 50 metres from the vehicle, and must be visible from a distance of 100 metres.
It is also important to protect yourself whilst placing the warning triangles on the road by wearing a high visibility jacket.
Try also to make sure that your vehicle is as clear of the carriageway as possible.
All of these things must be done straight away in order to warn other road users of the hazard. Do this before summoning help.
How to avoid problems with tyres
It is important to ensure that the tyres are properly inflated for the load they are carrying. This should be checked on a regular basis but is also important before a long journey, especially if the vehicle will be carrying more weight than normal, such as the family and luggage.
We have dealt with tyres before, as they are one of the most important safety concerns on a vehicle, but often overlooked. Please scroll down our Facebook page aft you have finished reading this article to see more about tyre safety.
What we will say though is it is Important to check your tyres on a regular basis, and that includes the spare, if your vehicle has one. Some modern cars have emergency repair kits rather than spare wheels, but whatever your vehicle does have, check to make sure the kit is complete and that the tools to carry out a replacement or fix are with the spare or emergency kit.
Lights are important
We have also spoken about the importance of checking your lights on a regular basis too, and again that is even more important at this time of year.
It is now mandatory for new cars to have Daytime Running Lights, and although these are important safety features, they do not in any way replace the need for headlights during darkness or poor visibility. Daytime Running Lights are designed to make the vehicle more visible for other road users, and are not designed to illuminate the road ahead. Moreover, they only illuminate the front of the vehicle, and so not using your lights correctly could leave you in a vulnerable position.
Fg lights may also be necessary at this time of year, but should only be used when visibility is seriously reduced. It is also important to switch them off again once visibility improves.
How to react to an obstacle on the road
The appearance of an obstacle such as a loose animal, a scattered load, a fallen tree or other object on the road can cause risky situations. In the event that an imminent impact with your vehicle you should avoid any sudden steering moves if possible, as you could skid. Trying to brake is important, but pay close attention to whatever is around your vehicle, especially behind, as well as in front.
If your vehicle becomes immobilised, or if the obstruction could pose a risk to other road users, remember to protect the scene with your hazard lights and warning triangles before summoning help.
Keeping your vehicle in top shape is important to ensure that winter driving is as safe as possible, but if you are involved in an incident, even a minor one, it may be worthwhile getting the car checked by a qualified mechanic.