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Avoiding Crashes & Emergency Maneuvers

Car crashes aren’t really “accidents,” because almost every collision is preventable. In an emergency situation where you might crash into another vehicle or other object, you need to react quickly. You can steer around the object; change your speed, generally by braking; or both steer and change your speed.

Evasive steering
Aggressive steering may be required in an emergency situation, which is why AAA recommends holding the steering wheel with both hands, at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions, as on the hands of a clock. This method provides:

  • 180-degree steering input without removing your hands from the steering wheel.
  • A high level of arm leverage and vehicle control.
  • An awareness of where the wheels are pointing and how to straighten them.
  • Quicker reaction times, making you better able to take evasive action.

Evasive braking
In some emergency situations, you may be forced to brake because there is no space to the side into which you can steer or because you have failed to identify such a space.

Braking with anti-lock brakes (ABS). If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, all you need do is press the brake pedal and hold it down. The system automatically senses if a wheel begins to lock and quickly releases and reapplies the brakes as many times as necessary to keep the wheel from locking up.

You can also continue to steer the vehicle while braking.

Braking without ABS. If your vehicle is not equipped with anti-lock brakes, the best way to brake under emergency conditions is to use squeeze (or threshold) braking. To squeeze brake, keep your heel on the floor and use your toes to apply pressure on the brake pedal. If the wheels lock, ease off the brake pedal to a point just before they lock. Adjust pedal pressure as necessary. This gives you the best combination of braking effort and directional control.



Move Over to Save a Life.

To increase safety for roadside workers, law enforcement and stranded motorists, most states have laws that require motorists to change lanes and slow down to allow room for emergency vehicles to work safely. If moving to another lane is impossible, you might need to slow down significantly below the posted speed limit.

Review the move over laws in your state.