Driving is mostly a matter of routine: Hands at nine and three, check your blind spot, signal before switching lanes. But unexpected weather conditions or common driving hazards can pop up at any time. What do you do when faced with this list of potential driving dangers?
When a deer jumps in front of you
First of all, don’t swerve. You might miss the deer but end up in another hazardous situation, such as hitting a tree or driving over an incline. Instead, brake firmly and hit your horn to try to scare the animal out of the road. If you do hit a deer, get your car out of the road and report the accident to the police.
If you have to drive after a severe storm
High winds and torrential rain can result in hazards, including floodwaters, downed power lines and fallen branches. Don’t test your luck on dangerous roads. Wires might be live (even if you don’t see sparks), and even small amounts of flooding can be dangerous. In fact, a mere six inches of water may cause tires to lose traction, and even a four-wheel-drive vehicle can be carried away by a couple of feet of water. Find an alternate route or delay your travel.
If you blow a tire on the highway
Resist the urge to brake, which could cause a spinout. Instead, keep heading straight (without overcorrecting if the vehicle begins listing to one side), take your foot off the gas and let the car slow down on its own. Once you drop below 30 miles per hour, gently hit the brakes and begin making your way safely to the shoulder or off on an exit. (For even more tips on driving during a blowout, check the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website.)
When a hailstorm hits
Turn on your headlights and slow your speed, then try to drive to a covered spot such as a parking garage or a gas station canopy. If that’s not possible, pull entirely off the road and angle your car so that the hail hits the windshield (which is reinforced and less likely to break than the other windows).
If you hit a miles-long delay
Have a passenger find an alternate route with a GPS app that takes traffic into account. If the only way to get where you’re going is through the traffic jam, exercise patience. Tailgating or frantically switching lanes is more likely to cause a fender bender than to significantly speed up your commute.