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Driving Emergencies

How to Handle Common Roadside Emergencies

No matter how much experience you have behind the wheel, driving emergencies can happen to anyone. Here are common problems many drivers will face with steps to help you remain safe.  

Tire Blowout  

A flat tire is usually caused by having too low tire pressure or running over an object that punctures the tire.  

What to do if your tire blows out:  

  • Maintain control of the wheel and steer straight. A blown front tire will pull the vehicle to the affected side, whereas a rear tire may cause the car to weave.  
  • Allow the car to gradually slow down. Breaking hard with a blown tire can cause the vehicle to spin and the driver to lose control.  
  • Steer the car off the road. As the car slows, steer yourself to the side of the road. Then begin fixing your flat tire with a spare or call for assistance.  

Engine Failure  

A variety of issues can cause engine failure. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular maintenance, like oil changes, to check your vehicle’s overall condition.  

What to do if your engine fails:  

  • Turn on your emergency flashers. Alert other drivers so they can keep a safe distance, especially if on a busy highway.  
  • Find an exit or pull off the road. If possible, head to a nearby repair shop for help. If your engine is shutting down, safely drive the car completely off the road.  
  • Call for help and wait. Contact your mechanic, insurance agent or call for [emergency roadside service] (ERS). Experts recommend that you stay in your vehicle while waiting for help to arrive.  

Accelerator Pedal Sticks 

The throttle/accelerator can get stuck on floor mats or objects near the driver’s feet. Have a professional examine your accelerator if it's ever damaged before driving.  

What to do if your accelerator sticks:  

  • Stay focused on the road. Do not look down at your feet or try to grab the throttle by hand. Try using your toe to lift the accelerator or tap it a few times to get it back into position.  
  • Brake in neutral. If the accelerator is stuck, apply continuous pressure to the break (no pumping). Then shift the car into neutral to slow your speed.  
  • Come to a complete stop. Guide your vehicle to a safe area off the road where you can then shut the engine off. Shutting off the engine before coming to a complete stop will impact your ability to steer your car.  

Brakes Fail   

Due to normal wear and tear, brakes lose their ability to slow a vehicle and should be replaced overtime. 

What to do if your breaks fail:  

  • Reduce speed. Try pumping the break to build up hydraulic pressure to slow the car. Most newer models have dual breaks that will automatically take over in an emergency.  
  • Warn other drivers. If there are other drivers around, use your horn and flashers to alert them. Do your best to steer your car away from other cars.   
  • Brace to stop. Look for an area where you can bring the car to a stop. Apply the emergency break and aim for targets like bushes, fences, or guardrails if the brakes have completely failed.   

Skid Out of Control    

Icy winter roads, heavy rain and other bad road conditions can cause your vehicle to unexpectedly skid off the road.  

What to do if you lose control of your vehicle:  

  • Stay calm. If you’re car begins to skid, slowly release the gas pedal and steer into the slide. Fight the reaction to speed up or brake quickly.  
  • Take one action at a time. Focus on your speed or steering, but not at the same time. This can increase the slide further and keep you from regaining control.  
  • Gain control. Continue steering and or breaking until you regain traction or come to a complete stop.  

When it comes to emergencies, it's best to be prepared and even better to know you're covered. Farm Bureau Insurance has your back with Emergency Roadside Service (ERS). ERS provides towing, flat tire change, battery jump-starts, lock out service, and more. Contact an agent to learn how we can keep you and your vehicle protected.