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Florida Driver Handbook: Handling Emergencies

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Florida Driver Handbook: Handling Emergencies

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Table of Contents

5. Driving Safety

When you are driving, things can happen very quickly. You may have only a fraction of a second to make the right move. Follow these guidelines for handling emergencies.

5.32.1 - Breakdowns

  • If possible, park where the disabled vehicle can be seen for 200 feet in each direction.
  • Move the vehicle so all four wheels are out of traffic lanes.
  • Turn on your emergency flashers.
  • Get all passengers out on the side away from traffic.
  • Tie a white cloth on the left door handle or antenna.
  • Raise the hood.
  • Call * FHP or other law enforcement agencies for assistance.

5.32.2 - Tire Blowout

  • Do not use brakes.
  • Concentrate on steering.
  • Slow down gradually.
  • Brake softly when the car is under control.
  • Pull completely off the pavement.

5.32.3 - Wet Brakes

  • Test brakes lightly after driving through deep water.
  • Brakes may pull to one side or may not hold at all.
  • Dry brakes by driving slowly in low gear and applying brakes.

5.32.4 - Right Wheels off Pavement

  • Take your foot off the gas pedal.
  • Hold the wheel firmly and steer in a straight line.
  • Brake lightly.
  • Wait until the road is clear.
  • Turn back on the pavement sharply at slow speed.

5.32.5 - Car or Motorcycle Approaching in your Lane

  • Sound your horn.
  • Brake sharply.
  • Steer for the side of the road or the ditch.

5.32.6 - Jammed Gas Pedal

  • Keep your eyes on the road.
  • Tap the gas pedal with your foot.
  • Try to pry the pedal up with the toe of your shoe.
  • Shift into neutral.
  • Turn off the ignition. (Do not turn the key to lock, or your steering will lock.)
  • Use your brakes.

5.32.7 - Brake Failure

  • Pump the brake pedal hard and fast, except for vehicles with anti-lock brakes.
  • Shift to a lower gear.
  • Apply the parking brake slowly and make sure that you are holding down the release lever or button. This will prevent your rear wheels from locking and your vehicle from skidding.
  • Rub your tires on the curb to slow your vehicle, or pull off the road into an open space.

5.32.8 - Skidding

  • Take your foot off the gas pedal.
  • Do not use your brakes, if possible.
  • Pump the brakes gently if you are about to hit something.
  • Steer the car into the direction of the skid to straighten the vehicle out. Then steer in the direction you wish to go.

5.32.9 - Fire

  • If the fire is small and you have a portable extinguisher, you should attempt to extinguish the fire.
  • If you cannot extinguish the fire and it continues to get larger, get away from the vehicle, due to the presence of toxic fumes and the possibility of explosion.
  • Never apply water to a gasoline or diesel fire.

5.32.10 - Submerged Vehicles

If you are in a crash and your vehicle enters a pond, lake, river or other body of water you should remain calm and assess the situation. If your vehicle enters water, it will only float on the surface for 30 to 60 seconds so make every attempt to get out of the vehicle immediately. First, remove your safety belt, then lower the window and climb onto the top of the vehicle. Before trying to swim away, assess the current of the water.

If the vehicle is sinking quickly and you cannot get the door or window open you will have to wait for the pressure to equalize. Take off heavy clothing that will cause you to sink, but keep your shoes on in case you have to kick the window to escape. When the water along the window is to your shoulder, try to open the door. If you are able to, there will still be a rush of water coming into the vehicle.

If you cannot open the door or window, there will be a small air pocket near the part of the vehicle which is highest in the water. If you can't get a side window open, take a breath and kick the window out. Go to the air pocket for one more breath and then escape.