Farmers™ Insurance interviewed Tim O’Neil, a professional driving instructor and champion of 5 North American Rally Championship races. Tim shared his 5 most important rules for avoiding an auto accident.
1) Drive by conditions, not speed limits
Most drivers will slow down in intense weather situations (rain, snow, ice, loose surfaces, etc) , but when driving in seemingly normal conditions people tend to get comfortable and lose track of what’s happening outside of the car.
Along with getting comfortable, another major factor is overconfidence. “Cars accelerate better than ever in low-grip situations, and the high seating position in popular crossovers and SUVs gives you a better view of the road,” O’Neil told Farmers. “Everything seems okay, until you have to stop quickly and can’t – or the vehicle starts to skid. Then you know you’re driving too fast, but it’s too late.”
2) Sit in O’Neil’s “command sitting position”
Keep your elbows bent 45-90 degrees (a little closer than most people are used to) and make sure your knees are bent too, “You should still have some bend when you press the brake all the way,” says O’Neil.
This position will help you react more quickly to sudden obstacles in the road.
3) Keep your eyes where you want to go
O’Neil explains that most skids can be avoided by matching your speed to the conditions of the road. Most skids are the result of over-steering as the back tires lose grip and the rear of the vehicle slides out; “When this happens, the front of the car is pointing at trees or a building or somewhere else you don’t want to go.” Because drivers tend to focus on where the car is headed they overcorrect. Alternatively, drivers should “look where you want to go, and steer in that direction” instead of simply slamming on the breaks.
4) Consider the potential accidents in your area
“When you’ve braked as hard as you can for as long as you can, and a crash is still imminent, consider plan B: In some situations, you can look away from the obstacle and steer around it,” says O’Neil. You should know what to do automatically if something unexpected happens. O’Neil calls this “the power of knowing what to do ahead of time.”
⇒ What will you do if a deer jumps in front of your car?
⇒ How would you react if you hit black ice? ⇒ Where do you go when the car in front of you slams on the brakes?
5) Don’t confuse your car
“Let’s say you’re in a turn and realize you’re going too fast. You let off the gas suddenly and hit the brake while still trying to turn. That’s how people can lose control—too many inputs at once. You might be able to get away with it on a dry summer day, but in low-grip situations you’re asking for trouble.”
Take the advice of a professional driver, “Slow down as you approach a curve. Let off the brake and then turn. As you accelerate, unwind the steering.”
Written by John Diether The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only. The information is provided by Farmers and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to this article or the information, products, services or related graphics, if any, contained in this article for any purpose. The information is not meant as professional or expert advice, and any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.