In Minnesota, we must be prepared for anything on our roads. Drivers of any age should be ready to get themselves out of a dangerous situation, whether it’s a problem with your car, the road, or the weather. Here are some tips to help you avoid driving emergencies.
1) Skidding on Ice or Water
Skidding and sliding is commonplace on Minnesota roads, whether it be ice, compacted snow, black ice, or water. If you do start to slip, take your foot off the accelerator, and try to glide through it. Braking too hard will make it worse, as more weight will shift to the front tires, which is usually where the skid occurs. Steer gently toward where you were wanting to go, but don’t overcompensate. The easiest way to prevent skidding is to drive slowly in those conditions, trust your ABS brakes if you have them, and give other drivers plenty of space so you have time to react.
2) The Brakes Go Out
This usually happens when the brake pads are completely worn out. If you hear your brakes squeaking, get your pads changed or checked as soon as possible.
First, try pumping your brakes (which most people would do instinctively). If you can, downshift or put your car in neutral to naturally slow it down. If you think of it at the time, turning on your hazard lights can also warn other motorists that something is going wrong. If you still need extra power to slow you down, try gently applying the emergency brake (hand brake or foot brake will work). If you don’t have the room or these tips aren’t working, navigate toward something you can rub the side of your car along to act as friction, such as a guardrail, fence, or retaining wall. Although you’ll have serious body damage, it is much safer for you and other drivers than if you were to hit something head-on.
3) Sinking Car
With the many lakes and ponds in Minnesota, knowing how to escape a sinking car is essential. First, know that you’ll have 1-2 minutes of floating time before the car fills with enough water to sink. Do not open the doors. When you hit the water, unbuckle your seatbelts and unroll your windows. Calmly instruct children to unbuckle (or unbuckle them quickly once the windows are open), and let them know you’ll all be exiting through the windows.
If your windows are stuck or you don’t have the power to lower them, use a window breaker tool, or pull off the headrest as a makeshift window breaker. Take this story about a woman remembering the window as her exit when she found herself in water.
4) Flooded Streets
Do not try to cross water that is flowing. It’s very hard to judge the true depth of water, and moving water—even as little as 2 feet deep—can easily take a car with it. If your road is blocked by floodwaters, turn around immediately and find another route. If your vehicle is stalled in the water, don’t try to push your vehicle out of the water. Exit the vehicle and move to higher ground.
5) Stalling on Train Tracks
Check for trains from both directions. If there is a train coming, exit the car as fast as possible and run diagonally out and toward the train (if you stay parallel to where the train will hit your car, you may get hit with debris from the collision). If you don’t see a train, roll down your windows or open your door first to listen carefully for an approaching train. Only then should you try to restart your car, or put it in neutral to try to push it off the tracks.
6) Vehicle Catches Fire
If you see smoke or flames while you’re driving, pull over immediately – preferably to a space away from buildings or trees. Turn off the car and don’t try to put out any flames. Get out of the car immediately and call or wait for emergency assistance.
Some of these issues can be solved by keeping your car in good working order. At Kuehn Motors, we are here to guide you with all your car needs and buying decisions. We hope you never have to face one of these driving emergencies, but if you do, you’ll be prepared.