Is Your First Reaction to an Emergency Situation to Slam on the Brakes?
Did anyone ever pull out in front of you because they obviously did not see you comingand then, when they realized you were there, slam on the brakes stopping right in yourpath?
If that driver had just hit the gas instead of the brakes, he would have gotten out ofyour way and you may not have given it a second thought. After all, every driver at onetime or another has done something stupid; but, if they realized it and reacted properly,they came away with nothing more than a red face.
If your first reaction to any emergency is to slam on the brakes, then you have somework to do on your driving skills. A panic stop, under most conditions, should be the lastresort because you risk locking up all four wheels and losing steering control. In manysituations you can steer around an obstacle more easily than trying to stop before youreach it. Training yourself to react properly to each situation in the split second youhave to make a decision is the key to becoming a safe driver.
The first step in this training program is to know the limits of your car. Find adeserted road or an empty parking lot and try a few emergency maneuvers. Practice thesemaneuvers both on a dry day and on a day with heavy rain. The more familiar you becomewith your car and the more confidence you have in your ability to control it, the betteryou will be at avoiding accidents.
First, a few cautions. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened.Make sure there is plenty of room for each of these maneuvers with a good margin for errorand there is no other traffic around that could be startled by your sudden changes indriving patterns. If you are a new driver, have a more experienced driver or a drivinginstructor accompany you to help evaluate your performance. Remember, your safetyis your responsibility. You must use your own good judgment to make sure conditions aresafe for each of these maneuvers. If you do not feel comfortable with any of thesemaneuvers, then do not attempt them without an experienced driving instructor accompanyingyou.
The reason you are doing these maneuvers is to gain experience and confidence in yourabilities and to know what to expect from your car when a real emergency occurs.
Learn how to see things in slow-motion. By that I mean watch a potential situationunfold and react to it as it happens, split-second by split-second, saving any thought ofpanic until the danger is past. After that, you may have to pull over to catch your breathand let your heart slow down, but at least you'll be out of trouble. If you have ever beenin a close call, you probably know what is meant by "everything happened in slowmotion." All I'm saying is, use this effect to your advantage, and the best way to dothat is to not panic.
As you drive, try visualizing what you would do and what options you have if certainsituations occur.
Be observant. Remember, accidents happen because the participants did not expect them.The best ways to avoid accidents are to anticipate them and be ready to respond; know thehandling characteristics and limitations of your car; and above all don't panic.
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