When your passengers start screaming it’s not always a good thing
I’m reminded of an old joke. Teenager one to teenager two; “My grandfather died in his sleep.” Teenager two; “That sounds peaceful.” Teenager one; “It was for him, but not for his screaming passengers since he was driving at the time.” No one really wants to have their passengers begin screaming, but it does happen. Let’s take a look at a few driving emergencies and what you can do to control the situation…before your passengers begin to scream.
If you’re driving along and your steering fails, it can be pretty scary. The first thing is to recognize when it’s happening. If you attempt to steer to either turn a corner or change lanes and there’s no response from the steering wheel, you know you have steering failure. If this happens, apply the brakes immediately. If you’re in a forced turn such as a sharp curve, brake firmly to avoid going off the road. If it’s a matter of changing lanes, brake in a controlled fashion and call for help once you’re safely stopped.
If you’re driving and the hood flies up, besides screaming, here’s what to do. Although this may not happen very often it can be startling. Gently brake and ease to the side of the road. In many cases you’ll be able to under the hood enough to safely guide you to the curb. Braking hard may cause the hood to slam down again. That could damage the locking mechanism and even cause the windshield to crack through the vibration.
Years ago I was heading out with my 4 kids in the family van. Since the van was left unattended for a while I checked it thoroughly before entering it. I noticed the hood was unlocked and sitting loosely. Someone had added washer fluid and didn’t ensure the hood was closed when they were done. Since I was heading out onto the expressway, there was a good chance the hood would fly up with the force of air coming under the hood. Another reason why I believe in doing a walk around before entering my vehicle. (Explained HERE)
Here’s a good one. What if you’re driving along and your brakes fail? That will sure to get passengers screaming, but it won’t stop your vehicle. Here’s what to do. The moment you hit the brake pedal and it goes to the floor, you know it’s not working. Begin pumping the brakes to see if you can build pressure into the brake system. This also lets drivers behind know you’re trying to stop.
If that doesn’t stop you, apply the parking brake. This may also be known as the emergency brake. Engage the parking brake as firmly as possible without locking it up. If it locks up you can release some pressure slightly and then reapply. Parking brakes can only help you if they’ve been used regularly. (Parking brakes are explained HERE)
If that doesn’t stop you, downshift to the lowest gear immediately; including in an automatic transmission vehicle; not just manual. This pressure will slow the vehicle down significantly, but it won’t stop you. These few steps take only a matter of a few seconds to do, which shows the need to slow down early for routine stops. This gives you extra time to stop in case of emergencies. (Full explanation found HERE)
At slower speeds, if you still can’t stop find something to drive into to absorb your energy. This may include bushes, a garden, the front lawn and perhaps into an empty parked vehicle. No one wants to hit a parked vehicle, but if the only other option is to hit a pedestrian, cyclist or other driver causing injury or worse, it’s not that bad of an option.
Ensuring your vehicle is always properly maintained and checked regularly before driving away can help ensure these emergencies won’t happen. However, being prepared if they do happen can help stop your passengers from screaming.