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9. Auto Accidents: Causes & Prevention

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Mechanical Breakdowns

Introductions

Slamming on your brakes is not the best reaction for every driving emergency. A panic stop, under most conditions, should be the last resort because you risk locking up all four wheels and losing steering control (i.e., skidding). In many situations you can steer around an obstacle more easily than trying to stop before you reach it, even if your vehicle is equipped with ABS brakes.


Accidents happen because drivers do not expect them and do not know how to react properly. The best ways to avoid an accident are to anticipate it and be ready to respond; know the handling characteristics and limitations of your car; and above all don't panic.


Learning the appropriate ways to react to different emergency situations in the split second you have to make a decision is the key to becoming a safe driver.


Mechanical Breakdowns

A significant number of accidents are caused by vehicle equipment failure such as:

  • bald or defective tires
  • bad brakes
  • inoperative lights
  • degraded steering and suspension components.
  • To help avoid accidents caused by mechanical failure, you should keep your vehicle in good working condition and perform routine maintenance.


    Even properly maintained vehicles will occasionally experience mechanical failure. You should know how to react to avoid an accident when it happens to you. The first thing to remember is to not panic. You will be able to think more clearly and respond appropriately if you do not panic.


    Stuck Gas Pedal

    If your gas pedal is stuck down, you should:

  • shift to neutral
  • apply the brakes
  • keep your eyes on the road to look for a way out
  • warn other drivers by blinking and flashing your emergency lights
  • try to drive the car safely off the road
  • as the last step turn off your ignition when you no longer need to change direction and are stopped. Turn on your emergency flashers.

  • Turning the ignition switch completely off while moving is never the correct response to an emergency situation. It may lock the steering wheel and you will be unable to steer the vehicle. Never turn your ignition off while your vehicle is still moving, no matter what sort of emergency situation you are experiencing.


    Tire Blowout

    If you have a tire blowout or lose a wheel while driving, you should:

  • hold the steering wheel tightly and steer straight ahead. The car will try to swerve towards the side of the blowout.
  • slow down gradually, taking your foot off the gas pedal slowly but without applying the brakes
  • slow to a stop off the road, applying the brakes only when the car is almost stopped. Turn on your emergency flashers.
  • Lesson Summary


      

    Lesson 9 Quiz


    You will now answer 5 questions to test what you learned during this lesson. You must answer all questions correctly to receive completion credit for this lesson. You may answer the questions as many times as necessary to get them right.

    You should review the lesson material if you don't do well on the quiz.

    1. Failure to yield is the primary cause of what percentage of fatal and injury collisions?


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    2. If you are distracted for one second, by a cell phone, passenger, or other distraction, at 30 mph you will travel how far "blindly"?


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    3. Teenage drivers have a total accident rate that is _____ times that of adults:


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    4. To avoid tailgating, and help avoid a rear-end collision, you should give yourself a gap of how many seconds behind the car in front of you?


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    5. If you have a tire blowout:


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