Experienced drivers could liken driving to playing a video game.
While driving itself is a rather simple subject that follows simple rules, it’s the unexpected occurrences and the variations that cause accidents. By that I mean, the things you did not expect to happen or the things that popped up out of the blue!
We call these the hidden dangers of driving.
Unfortunately, our roads are not only occupied by cars. One of the biggest hidden dangers of driving is obstacles or unexpected objects or wildlife on a road.
Being alert to this and knowing how to react can reduce the likelihood of you getting into an accident because of them.
Here are some common roadway obstacles and some suggestions on how to react or maneuver through, around, or over them.
Deer and other wildlife
Deer have become so famous for crossing roads at the wrong time that there’s a saying about the deer in the headlights look. Unfortunately, the number of drivers involved in accidents caused by deer is growing every year, even in suburban areas. So what do you do when you are driving and there is a deer in the middle of the road?
The best way to avoid an accident is to be prepared for it. While you may never be prepared to find a deer in front of your car, you can watch out for signs of deer crossing and drive more alert and a little slower. Be careful when taking blind turns. Deer are also more likely to come out during early morning or the hours during sunset. If you do see a deer in the road, slow down as much as possible. Try not to slam on the brakes and if you do end up colliding with a deer, grip the steering wheel as firmly as possible so as to avoid your car swerving or going into an oncoming lane or ditch on the side of the road.
If you have hit a deer, pull over and check if the deer is still alive. If it is, you should call local law enforcement for assistance.
Unidentified flying objects are most common on highways and interstates where vehicles drive at high speed. Driving along you suddenly find a UFO flying towards your windshield. Maybe a tire or garbage bag that fell off a truck, a rock, a bird, and so on.
Many times, the object flying at your car is not in fact extremely dangerous but it’s the suddenness of it that scares you. Sometimes even a paper napkin is enough to make you have an accident.
If it is something simple like a garbage bag or bird, do your best to slow down without slamming on the brakes, hold the steering wheel firmly and brace for small impact.
If you spot a UFO coming towards you and it looks dangerous, quickly analyze the traffic on both sides of your car and see if you can safely move to another lane. Do not panic and swerve to another lane without looking as an accident at high speeds can be very dangerous.
If your car has been hit by a UFO, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Check your vehicle for damage and contact local law enforcement.
Non-cars and slow moving vehicles
Tractors, horse drawn buggies, construction vehicles, and golf carts are common examples of slow moving vehicles found on smaller roads and within cities.
As aggravating as it can be to drive behind a slow moving vehicle, these vehicles are moving slow because they are required to by law or because they cannot move fast. The best thing to do is drive cautiously, slowly, and keep a safe distance between your car and the slow moving vehicle.
Many slow moving vehicles will at some point stop on the side of the road to allow traffic to move on before they get back on the road. Also, most SMVs do not drive long distances. The best thing to do is have patience.
Speed bumps exist to help increase safety by forcing you as a driver to slow down in certain areas where there are more pedestrians or in school or neighborhood zones. The problem is that we don’t always see them. While most speed bumps are yellow, some are black, and some are black with white stripes.
To not slow down at a speed bump will damage your car, but should you not see a speed bump and hit one, the best thing to do is smoothly press the brakes while ensuring your steering wheel remains straight so as not to swerve. Your car will bounce and slow down.
Pedestrians & cyclists
People are the most important obstacle to look out for and avoid. Observing the speed limit and driving cautiously in neighborhoods, cities, and small streets is critical. Pedestrians can appear on any street, not just on marked crosswalks. Yield while pedestrians are crossing, before you turn, and always give them the right of way.
Kids playing is also a very important obstacle to look for. Whenever you are driving on a street that has houses on both sides, or near a school zone, drive slowly and use extreme caution.
Similar to deer or other animals, pets can try to cross a road at any time. Pets such as dogs and cats will be found in neighborhood and residential streets, and in suburban areas. While you should never put your life in danger to avoid a pet, here are some things you can do:
- Slow down in areas where it is likely that people are walking their pets.
- Periodically scan both sides of the road ahead.
- If you do see someone walking or playing with a pet near the road, slow down.
- If you do make contact with a pet, assist the animal and make every effort possible to contact the owner.
Birds, squirrels, and small animals
All too often a car will swerve out of the way for a squirrel or bird flying across the street and cause an accident. When you see a small animal or bird crossing the street you can try to safely slow down minding the traffic and cars around you. But if it’s not possible, it is never worth putting yours and other drivers’ lives in danger to avoid them.
As you can see, when driving you will find all kinds of things on the road other than cars. You are never driving in your own “safe bubble”. Obeying posted signs, driving alert and cautiously, and being aware of the obstacles and objects that can appear out of nowhere in the middle of a road is important when driving.