Fri | Sep 18, 2020

How to deal with failures on the roads

Published:Sunday | August 9, 2020 | 12:06 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Contributor
Onlookers gather at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on Half-Way Tree Road, St Andrew, in the vicinity of FedEx involving a Nissan Note, a Volkswagen Amorak and a Honda CRV on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. The driver of the Nissan Note was rushed to the h
Onlookers gather at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on Half-Way Tree Road, St Andrew, in the vicinity of FedEx involving a Nissan Note, a Volkswagen Amorak and a Honda CRV on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. The driver of the Nissan Note was rushed to the hospital as she sustained an injury from the collision.

Driver error and equipment error are a recipe for road disaster as even good drivers occasionally make mistakes. Any driver can be put in an emergency situation by the unpredictable act of another motorist. “However, knowing how to identify an emergency, make correct decisions, and manoeuvre skillfully will help you avoid a collision,” advised Andrew Brown, a St Andrew-based auto mechanic of over 20 years.

A HEAD-ON COLLISION

This produces the highest force of impact of any collision and should be avoided at all costs. If you are threatened with a head-on crash, slow down as much as possible to lessen the force of impact. This will also give the other motorist space and time to recover control. Do not lock the wheels when braking. You cannot steer with locked wheels.

Blow horn and flash headlights to alert an oncoming driver in your lane. Prepare to brake and move left if the driver does not heed your warning. Steer towards the shoulder. Do not go to the right. Be ready to go all the way off the road, to the left if necessary. Look for a soft impact, such as bush, if you do not have a clear escape path. If a crash cannot be avoided, try to sideswipe rather than crash head-on.

According to Brown, to avoid or lessen the effect of a side-impact collision, take these steps:

1. Brake or accelerate quickly. Do whatever seems more likely to prevent or lessen the crash. Try to avoid a crash directly into the passenger compartment.

2. Blow the horn to alert the other driver.

3. Change lanes or swerve away from the impact. Be aware of the rest of the traffic situation. Your swerve should not cause a more severe collision.

BRAKE FAILURES

When brakes overheat, they may lose some of their effectiveness. Andrew Brown said, “This is called ‘brake fade’. It occurs after long, continuous, hard braking. He explained that to regain full braking force, stop and allow the brakes to cool. He also cautioned motorists that driving in deep water can cause temporary brake failure.

Loss of vision: The loss of forward vision requires you to act promptly to regain visibility. “Do not swerve! Continue to drive in the path you remember.”

CAR ON FIRE

“A fire can be dangerous and very difficult to extinguish,” said Keith Austin, auto electrician. The fire can be a gasoline, oil, or grease fire, or a combination of all three. He advised that one should carry a dry powder or carbon dioxide fire extinguisher designed to control such fires. Many vehicle fires begin in the engine compartment. In case of fire, take these actions:

1. Steer the car quickly out of traffic and off the roadway to a safe, open area.

2. Stay away from buildings and gas stations.

3. Turn off the ignition to cut off the electrical supply to the engine.

4: Get the passengers out of the car immediately. Have them move at least 10 feet, or 30 metres, from the car. Estimate how serious the fire is. If there are flames and smoke around the hood, do not risk trying to put it out. Leave the hood closed. Call the fire department if possible. Move away from the car as the fuel tank could explode.

If you estimate that the fire is small enough to control, take these steps.

1. Open the hood carefully.

2. Protect your face and hands from the heat.

3. Use a fire extinguisher or smother the fire with a blanket, jacket, or dirt. Water is not effective for putting out oil and gasoline fires. The auto electrician further explained that one should consider the possibility of fire in any collision where the engine compartment has been smashed. “Loose electric wires, escaping fuel and oil, and a hot engine combine to create a potential fire situation. Turn off the ignition, act quickly to get people out of the car and away from the danger of fire and explosion.

STEERING FAILURE

This seldom happens. However, it is serious when it does happen. Total steering failure happens when the engine dies or if the power steering fluid in the system is too low.