The 4 Most Common Unexpected Driving Situations and How to Handle Them Safely

The more experience you have driving, the better prepared you will be to handle various situations that arise. As a new driver, your Queens driving school will touch on the various situations that you might encounter while driving, but the most important thing to remember is to stay calm, think rationally, and find the safest method to handle the situation. Here are four of the most common situations that you might encounter when driving, and the safest ways to handle the situation.

  1. Low visibility due to sun, oncoming headlights, or fog.

Low visibility occurs in various situations, making it difficult to see what is in front of you, or around you. While you might be tempted to slam on your brakes if you can’t see a safer solution. Break moderately until you have slowed down to a safer speed, try to point your eyes down and focus on the solid white line on the side of the road. When driving in foggy weather, turn your high beams off, as the bright light from your high beams will reflect off the fog, further reducing your visibility.

      2. Rain, snow, sleet, or hail.

Driving in inclement weather is inevitable. Road conditions that are covered in snow, water or ice reduces traction, and increases the chances of sliding, skidding, or spinning out. During these conditions it is advised to slow down and drive at the safest speed for the conditions, even if other drivers around you aren’t slowing down.

During the first half hour of a rain storm, the roads are the slickest due to the dirt and oil on the road mixing with the water, creating an extremely slick surface. Sleet and hail are characteristically icy therefore, it is advised to slow down or avoid driving in these conditions all together, if possible. Snowy roads can be dangerous. Follow the tire tracks ahead of you and keep your tires in the tire treads to increase traction. Avoid changing lanes, as snow can build up between the lanes, creating a slick spot where you could potentially loose traction.

In bad weather conditions that have poor visibility, slow down, turn your music off, and roll down your window. This will allow you to hear dangers that you might not necessarily see. Such dangers may include, honking, skidding vehicles, or accidents. This will also reduce the amount of condensation that accumulates inside your windshield, which is a result of the outside temperature being significantly cooler than the temperature inside your vehicle.

     3. Skidding or hydroplaning on black ice or standing water.

If you see standing water in the road up ahead, slow down to a safer speed until you have passed the water. When you attempt to cross standing water, or black ice at too high of speed, you will lose traction, and ultimately slide across the surface with no control over your vehicle.

In the event that you do find yourself hydroplaning, ease your foot off the gas, and try not to move the steering wheel. Do not apply the brake, as this will encourage your vehicle to continue sliding instead of stopping. Don’t attempt to accelerate again until you have regained traction.

    4. Wildlife crossing. 

Large animals can cause a lot of damage to a vehicle and the driver if hit at high speeds. The easiest way to protect yourself is to turn on your high beams, if there are no other cars around. The high beam will give you a wider view of the road, and will reflect off an animal’s eyes, making them easier to spot. Be alert in areas where there are wildlife crossing signs, as these are generally placed in spots where animals are known to congregate. Remember that deer tend to travel in herds, so if you see one, be careful and look for others nearby.

If you happen upon animals in the road, the perfect scenario would allow for you to slow down and navigate safely around them. If you only have time for one option, slow down! Trying to veer around animals at a high speed could result in your actually hitting them instead of avoiding them, or hitting other objects around. Also, hitting a large animal at high speeds could potentially cause the animal to crash through your windshield. The best rule of thumb is to slow down at night, especially if you are driving in rural areas where large animals are more prevalent.

Slow down, be alert, and know how to safely handle various road conditions and you’ll be able to arrive to your destination safely. Your local Queens driving school, Drive Rite Academy can give you the knowledge to handle various driving situations so that you are prepared for what might happen. When driving, always keep general safety in the forefront of your mind, watch your speed, wear your seat belt, and eliminate distractions. By following these general guidelines, you’ll be safe and better prepared to handle unexpected surprises when you are out driving on the road.