Finding an escape route doesn’t require magic
A Harry Houdini you may never be, but becoming familiar with the art of escaping from harrowing roadway circumstances is something you owe yourself and your loved ones. In case you believe it’s beyond the scope of ordinary mortals, here are basic steps anyone can learn and remember.
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Know what an escape route is
An escape route is any safe path you can steer toward when confronted with a possible auto collision. The key here is to realize that it doesn’t have to be the road. It could be the shoulder – paved or unpaved – a sidewalk, somebody’s lawn or an empty field. But one thing it can’t be: an unplanned or lucky route. An escape route is a previously planned path away from danger.
Actively scan your environment
Your basic choices are either to the left or right. Knowing which one is best requires that you constantly scan your environment to either side and well ahead of you. Most of the time we travel roads over and over so we become familiar with the layout and what to expect. A place like Vincentown, NJ (near the CollisionMax of Marlton auto body shop) has only 8 roads in its Victorian-era town, which makes memorization relatively easy. On two-lane roads, the left is often a poor choice because of the potential for oncoming traffic. But when there’s a tree, utility pole, deep ditch, bridge abutment, a parked car or a pedestrian to the right, your best bet may be only to use your brakes. Think of the left as your escape route of last resort.
Always anticipate emergencies
Safe driving results from being fully mentally involved at all times. That means you should always be asking yourself what could go wrong on the road ahead of you and thinking about where your current escape route is. And whenever you see the potential for a tight squeeze ahead, slow down. For example, a car crash in your lane would pose an immediate road hazard. Slower speeds give you more time to react to these unexpected emergencies.
Don’t count on your brakes
Escape routes aren’t about applying the brakes, but finding a better direction. If you drive as if your brakes won’t save you, you’re likely to create your best escape route all by yourself: keeping plenty of distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
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