MOTORING NEWS - Hitting the road off the beaten track is an exhilarating experience. However, it also has the potential to turn into a nightmare if your car slides out of control on a gravel road. But what must you do when it does happen?
Arrive Alive offers a few handy tips:
- Keep both hands on the wheel, but do not fight the vehicle.
- If your vehicle begins to skid, don't hit the brakes. Take your foot off the accelerator, look where you want to go, gently steer in that direction and keep driving at a lower speed.
- Try not to over-correct. Accidents occur when the driver tries to correct the movement of the car, losing control and eventually crashing - on the opposite side of where the driver wanted to go.
- To straighten up your vehicle when it is sliding sideways, steer out of the slide. This means to steer in the direction of the forward side of the vehicle. If the road is clear, use the entire width of the road. It's easier to slide gently to the wrong side of the road than it is to try and wrestle the car into line. While you try to steer out of the slide, ease off on the accelerator and gently apply the brakes. Remember, you don't want to do anything too suddenly.
What if you cannot avoid a crash?
- If you cannot avoid a crash you should try to crash in a way that will minimise damage. You don't want to be brought to a sudden stop. This will cause the most injuries.
- If given the choice between a single large tree vs a fence, 20 metres of shrub and then a ditch, choose the latter. It will stop you slower.
- Once you have stopped, get out of the car if you can, as with all that fuel and heat around, there is a chance of a deadly fire.
- Be careful if you have to pull other people out of the car - you may be worsening possible spine injuries.
For the safest drive on gravel, a four-wheel drive system is always desirable. This lessens the effects of over-steer and under-steer that become apparent in rear-wheel or front-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive cars behave more predictably on gravel.
And, of course, always make sure your tyres are in prime condition.
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