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What does emergency input on your steering wheel mean? See below

What does emergency input on your steering wheel mean? See below

A few small tips on driving on Interstates and freeways:

1. Dont run in packs. Get out and away from the groups of cars and trucks bunched together. (The ideal position on the highway is one pack of cars in front of you, another pack 1/4 to 1/2 mile in back of you.)

1(a). Dont follow other cars and trucks closely and keep in mind, even if you leave plenty of space, the cars in front, following too closely, can telegraph an emergency back to you, even if you are leaving plenty of space. If they have to stop too quickly, so will you. One of the biggest causes of crashes is cars following others without giving space, not allowing time for braking or emergency maneuvers.

2. Adjust your speed before approaching slower cars or groups of cars. Adjust well before you have to. This allows a greater margin of safety for yourself and lets the other cars/trucks in back of you know that there is likely a slowdown coming.

3. Dont drive directly in front of big trucks. Speed up, get away, change lanes, do what you have to to leave a considerable distance between your back bumper and big trucks.

4. Watch your mirror constantly. Know at all times what is beside you and behind you.

5. If you have to slow down suddenly with trucks behind you, take evasive action such as changing lanes or slowing and then continuing at a normal pace. Never make yourself a target for a truck or car behind you if you can help it.

6. NEVER CHANGE LANES ON AN INTERSTATE OR EXPRESSWAY WITHOUT SIGNALING. (Well, never say never. The one exception would be when facing an absolute emergency and you are certain there are no cars on the lanes next to you. Survival is the first goal, helping others to avoid crashes and survive, too, is equally important.)

7. Stay alert.

8. Take emergency action as soon as you see one developing. Dont wait.

9. Learn how to do emergency input into your steering, such as quick lane maneuvers without running off the highway. The quick jerk of the steering wheel is something you need to learn before the emergency and involves a small, fast turn without panic and without running off the road (as a bigger turn of the wheel would likely do). A lot of people move the wheel too far and then correct back too far, also, resulting in a crash. Learn how to make emergency shifts/turns.

10. Dont think you are going to crash before you do so. Train your brain to take action to avoid the crash, not get ready for impact. Turning and braking are the two most important skills, but turning, not braking, can save you more often in a high speed (60 and above) situation. It is a matter of training your brain to make an instant decision. Trust your brain and your reactions. They can handle it better than conscious decision making.

11. Engage in self criticism of your own driving. If you make a mistake, think about why you did and what went into the process that led up to the mistake. Learn from mistakes and get better all the time, all of your life. An example: you see it is likely a car ahead of you is about to change lanes, but you go ahead anyway. Just after you pass, the car moves over into your lane, almost crashing. This was, technically, that drivers mistake, but you could have avoided the near crash by changing lanes, honking your horn to warn the driver or holding back to see what he was going to do.

EMERGENCY INPUT on steering means enough turn to avoid a problem, like a car stopped in front of you on the highway, but not enough turn to cause a crash. Most of the time, an emergency input is anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 turn of the wheel**, almost never a half turn or more. Bigger turns cause bigger problems. If you are driving at speed, above 60, and you do a half turn or more, the car could slide or overturn. Another probability is the car sways to the side and the driver then correct backs (over corrects), causing a general loss of control or yet another over correction, followed by a crash.

People are warned never swerve for a deer or other animal. Why? Because many, if not most, will turn too far, running the car off the road and into a tree or other standing object. They havent learned how to do emergency maneuvers. You have to learn before the emergency arises, you cant learn during one. (Swerving for a deer is complicated anyway, because the deer might just jump back in the direction you are going to avoid it.) Keep in mind, too, that anti-lock brakes allow you do to panic stopping and still turn the wheel of the car. Thats the main advantage of anti-lock braking.

How can you learn emergency maneuvers? If you cant take an advanced driving course, you can learn some of the procedure by going to a road where there is no other traffic, driving your car in the middle of the road and then jerking it side ways with a short, sharp turn. It is, of course, technically illegal to go out testing your skills this way and if a police officer sees you doing it, he or she is going to want to know what you are up to. Is it better to break some laws, in a minor way, to save your life later on? Your decision.

Another important maneuver to practice is running off the side of the road with a modest (two to four inches) drop off. Most drivers, if the car drifts off the road momentarily, will jerk it back on. Often, this results in the car lurching into the opposing lane of traffic, which can be fatal. If you run off the road, the first thing to do is not panic. The second is to access the size of the drop off. The next is to slowdown and gradually come back on the road. This maneuver, too, can save your life.

These things are not that difficult. They arent taught in driving classes because you need to learn them after youve learned more general driving skills. Hundreds of lives could be saved every year if most people knew how to do these things.

Doug Terry, 6.21.14

**I drive a smaller car with very quick steering. Most cars have loose steering that doesnt turn the car as quickly as mine. How much input you use depends on your car and you must know how it handles before encountering an emergency. SUVs and other vehicles of that type are prone to rollovers, so you have to be more careful in emergencies and you have to know all the more what the vehicle can and cannot do at highway speeds.

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