Driving Safely during an Emergency: Keep a Cool Head
Sometimes, you can only rely on yourself during an emergency. For example, if your spouse is about to give birth and no ambulance can take you to the hospital fast enough, you’d be forced to drive yourselves there.
But you must be as fast as an ambulance to reach the hospital quickly. If you’ve never driven anywhere past your usual speed, you might put your and your spouse’s safety at risk. You might also harm other motorists because of your reckless driving.
Other situations that warrant fast driving are natural disasters or crimes where your loved ones got hurt. While you can trust emergency responders in those scenarios, it’s simply human nature to want to check on your loved ones yourself. Hence, you’d drop everything and come to their rescue, even if it puts your own safety at risk.
As much as these acts are noble and heroic, they can also be impulsive and downright dangerous. During an emergency, it’s best to stay calm and keep a level head. But what if your presence is required in the situation, and you have no other choice but to drive there fast?
Make a Driving Plan
Before hopping to your car right away, take some time to plan your drive. Decide which routes to take, what supplies to bring, and consider the traffic state. Whether you’re driving to a hospital or a typhoon-struck area, use this method while planning.
Some people turn on their hazard lights to signal to other drivers that they’re in a hurry on the road. They also do this when it’s raining hard, believing that the lights make them more visible. But the hazards lights are not meant to be used while the car is in motion.
The main purpose of the hazard lights is to indicate that the vehicle has broken down or got pulled over because of a road violation. Driving during a funeral procession also warrants its use. As such, being in a hurry is no excuse to flash your hazard lights.
Another common mistake is following vehicles with an emergency light because it creates the impression that you’re driving alongside a police car or ambulance. But this is a dangerous practice. When an emergency vehicle swerves, they’re already taking a considerable risk.
But in their case, other cars can give way for them, reducing their chances for a crash. Since you’re not an emergency vehicle, you can’t be sure that other cars will give way for you as well, even if you’re obviously in a hurry with your hazard lights on.
Attention-catching strobe lights set emergency vehicles apart. Hazards lights do not. This is why planning your drive is crucial. It prevents you from making reckless choices and mistakes that would only worsen your situation.
Do Not Break Any Law
Let’s say you’re a politician or someone connected to one. Either can give you privileges on the road. You can use your importance to break traffic rules and get away with it. But of course, that’s an abuse of power, not to mention a disservice to other road users.
Even during an emergency, politicians aren’t excused to break the law. Their cars can’t have a siren and flashing lights as well, even if they’re using their autos to aid in an emergency. State police departments don’t issue siren lights to politicians and their affiliates.
The law clearly states that only emergency vehicles can have sirens and strobe lights, such as fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars. So if you’re only a private citizen, you can’t exercise privileges to arrive in a place quickly. Remember Tip Number One and stick to it.
Don’t Forget About Routine Safety Measures
Since you have to drive faster than you normally do, you must observe the usual safety measures with sharper awareness. Put on your seat belt, keep your eyes on the road, and put items you need within reach. For example, if you’d pass a tollgate, your toll pass should be ready in a second so that you won’t be delayed.
Be alert for road signs or hazards, like bumps, holes, or fissures. If you’re driving toward a hurricane-struck area, beware of floods and debris. Such a scenario can make law enforcement unable to implement traffic rules, but don’t take advantage of that. Drive defensively no matter the situation. The last thing the people waiting for you need is another emergency, which comes from your end this time.
No matter how badly you need to help someone, consider your well-being before taking action. You can’t be of use if you’re hurt or apprehended. So strive to stay calm and rational during an emergency.