Driving Dangers: Responding to 4 Unexpected Incidents

November 29, 2016

driving dangersThis fall, you might be headed out on a road trip to enjoy a New York State park before winter or maybe just for a quick visit to the in-laws. But, if you lose your brakes, blow a tire, or experience another unusual (but not unheard of) problem, you could be headed for trouble.

So, let’s take a look at four situations you might face and some general guidance that may help you reach your destination safely:

1: The brakes go out
Your primary concern, of course, is to work your way over to the shoulder and stop the vehicle. To do so, try to downshift smoothly through the gears, which should slow down the car. Once you’re off the road, try the emergency brake and, if needed, roll into something that will help bring you to a stop while going at a low speed. Always avoid high-speed collisions, if at all possible.

2: The accelerator sticks
Quick action may help you get things under control here. Shift into neutral, which will stop the engine from powering the wheels. Doing this allows you to retain power steering and braking ability, so you can better control the car. You can try turning off the car (which will certainly slow it down), but it will be harder to control without power.

3: A tire blows
The National Safety Commission advises drivers to not slam on the brakes. The car will want to veer toward the side of the bad tire, and braking can make it veer even more. Instead, concentrate on steering to the side of the road as you slow down gradually.

We know of someone who lives here in Utica who was driving on the Thruway to pick up his son at the airport in Albany. His car’s tires had just been rotated by the garage. Someone there didn’t tighten the nuts enough and his right front tire flew off. At Thruway speed, he did decide to get off the road first, then break to stop the car. Fortunately, steering then breaking worked perfectly and he came out of this harrowing incident OK.

4: An animal jumps into the road
There are more than a million collisions between vehicles and wildlife each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Be mindful whenever you’re driving, especially around dawn and dusk, which are high-activity times for large animals. If you encounter a deer, moose, or other animal in the road, hit your brakes and sound your horn. Try not to swerve — serious injuries and fatalities often occur when cars make extreme maneuvers to avoid animals.

Deer are especially prevalent here in the Mohawk Valley and the Adirondacks. The New York State DMV tells us that two-thirds of all deer/vehicle collisions occur during the months of October, November, and December. That’s because this is breeding time for deer and the time they travel the most.

The DMV also points out that deer travel in groups. So if you see one, expect to see more. Decrease your speed and be careful. And look for horizontal movement at the side of the road. That could easily be deer.

We here at Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig hope you never encounter any of these situations. But, if you do, keep your cool and respond safely. If something does happen and you need your car insurance, we’ll be here to help you through it!

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.