It’s a Jungle Out There: How to Avoid Obstacles on the Roadway
Experienced drivers know that driving is like playing a video game in that there is always something popping up in your path. All drivers should be aware that objects will periodically appear in the road. Considering these obstacles ahead of time and contemplating how to handle particular situations will reduce the likelihood of them causing you to be involved in an accident. The following are some common roadway obstacles and tips on how to maneuver through, around, or over them:
How To Avoid Obstacles on the Roadway
A Deer in the Headlights
The number of drivers involved in accidents caused by deer on the roadways is growing every single year. As we humans spread into previously uninhabited forests, wildlife such as deer are bound to be found meandering down roads. Surprisingly, many accidents involving deer take place in suburban areas and small towns. Don’t think that you are safe from the deer dilemma just because you live miles from anything rural. The danger of colliding with a deer is heightened in the early hours of morning and the hours surrounding sunset, these times being most popular for deer to be mobile. If you see a deer on the road ahead, slow down as much as possible. If you are already very close to the animal when you notice it, do not slam on your brakes. This may cause your vehicle to skid or the car behind you to rear-end your vehicle. Instead, firmly grip the steering wheel and brace yourself for the impact. If you hit the animal, pull over as soon as you can to check for any damage to your car and recover from the collision. If the animal is still alive, you may need to call local law enforcement for assistance.
UFOs on the Roads
Unidentified flying objects are common occurrences on roadways, particularly highways and interstates where vehicles travel at high speeds. You are enjoying your pleasant commute when something unexpectedly flies towards your windshield. Whether it is a bag of garbage, piece of lumber, twelve foot ladder, fast food bag, or large bird, these random objects are cause for panic in many drivers. When you are driving at high speeds, even something as harmless as an empty grocery bag can startle you as it flies towards your windshield. Do you best to remain calm if you suddenly see something coming towards your vehicle. If you identify the object as dangerous, such as a large limb or piece of metal, quickly evaluate the traffic around you then make an attempt to avoid the object if it is safe to do so. If a large object is lying on the road, try to steer your vehicle so that your wheels straddle it as you pass. If something hits your car and you suspect damage has occurred, pull over as soon as possible and call local law enforcement to file an accident report.
Slow Moving Vehicles are an official category of vehicles that can be found on many types of roadways. A SMV is any type of vehicle than is not able to travel over a particular speed. In most states, this speed is thirty miles per hour. While these vehicles are not allowed on interstate highways, they are legally allowed to travel on all other roadways, so it is likely that you will encounter a SMV from time to time. Some examples of SMVs include: horse drawn carriages in cities, tractors or farm equipment, vehicles used for road construction and maintenance, gold carts or small electronic passenger vehicles, mowers, and wagons used as transportation by some cultural groups. All SMVs are required to display a bright orange reflective triangle outlined in dark red to warn drivers that they travel at slow speeds. If you encounter a SMV, make sure to maintain a safe distance, especially if the vehicle is being powered by livestock. Most SMVs will allow traffic to pass them from time to time.
Although it is widely accepted by automobile safety experts that speed bumps save lives by warning drivers to slow down, many consider them to be a nuisance. If you see a speed bump ahead, slow your vehicle down considerably before you reach it to prevent being jostled and your car from sustaining damage.
People are the most important obstacle to avoid. Make sure that you watch out for pedestrians at all times, not only when you are driving over a marked crosswalk. Always yield right of way to pedestrians. Wait until they have completely cleared the road before continuing.
Especially in suburban areas or on neighborhood streets, dogs and cats can be common obstacles. While you should never put yourself in danger of having a wreck to avoid hitting someone’s pet, there are several measures that drivers can take to avoid hitting beloved dogs and cats. First, slow down in these areas. Where there are freely roaming pets, there are often people. Drivers should watch out for both. Also, periodically scan either side of neighborhood streets for approaching animals. If you do make contact with a pet, it is common courtesy to assist the animal and make every effort to contact its owner.
Remember that you are never driving your vehicle in a bubble. There are all kinds of obstacles that can appear in your path and you must be prepared to navigate them. Obeying the posted speed limit and staying alert while driving will go a long way in preventing your vehicle from making contact with any of these common obstacles.
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Driving-Tests.org. He has been writing for beginner US drivers for several years.
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