Monday, September 16, 2013

Emergency Maneuvers - Evasive Steering

Most driving emergencies are caused by driver error. 

Emergencies happen when one or more drivers fail to observe safe operating practices.  Professional drivers reduce the likelihood of emergencies by using all of their knowledge and skill, while remembering that all road users need to be treated as equals.  It’s also fair to note that common courtesy can prevent the majority of emergency situations.
 
A tractor-trailer can generally be turned more quickly than it can be stopped.  If an escape path is available, evasive steering provides a better chance of avoiding a collision than attempting to stop. Head-on and rear-end crashes are often fatal.  Evasive steering can often reduce damages to a sideswipe accident.  Constantly scanning the roadway in front of you provides you with the information to make a quick decision.

The two most common escape routes are another lane of traffic and the shoulder of the road.  If your lane is entered by another motor vehicle, a quick lane-change may be your best escape route.  If a lane-change is impossible or dangerous, the shoulder of the road provides an alternate escape route.

Evasive steering, when handled properly, is generally safe.  Quick, evasive maneuvers usually won’t cause a rollover for the experienced driver.  The safest conditions for evasive steering are when you have stable cargo with a low center of gravity and a firm footing, such as an adjacent lane of highway or a paved shoulder of the road.

A few general procedures to consider if evasive steering should become necessary include:
 
  1. Minimize the amount of turning necessary by starting evasive steering as early as possible.
  2. Turn only as much as is needed to avoid a collision. The larger the turn, the greater the chance of a jackknife or rollover.
  3. Turn as quickly as possible using hand-over-hand steering.
  4. Avoid braking while making the evasive maneuver turn. Braking could cause the tractor and trailer wheels to lock-up. Locked wheels during turning could easily result in a loss of control.
  5. Brake before turning. If distance permits, apply the brakes hard before beginning a turn.
  6. Be prepared to counter-steer quickly. Counter-steering is the act of turning back toward your original path of travel. Quick counter-steering is required to keep your vehicle from traveling outside of its escape path and off the shoulder or into traffic.
When it becomes necessary for a driver to utilize emergency evasive steering, the importance of wearing your seatbelt becomes critical. It’s difficult to turn the steering wheel quickly unless you’re firmly rooted in your seat.

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