(KMSP) - Have you ever thought about what would happen if you suddenly drift off the road, get caught in a skid or need to stop on a dime? The Fox 9 Investigators took a crash course on how to become a better driver. The driving instructors at the Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center at St. Cloud State University demonstrated three life-saving lessons on their professional driving track. Police, firefighters and other first responders are trained on these very same lessons at the facility.
Leaving the Road
When a driver hits the shoulder, the first instinct is to panic. He will most often yank the wheel, hit the brakes and yank the wheel again. This could cause a rollover crash. The correct way to get back on the road is hold the wheel steady and go neutral on the pedals (no break, no gas). Then pick a spot, and calmly steer back to the road.
Avoiding Debris or an Obstacle in the Road
When an evasive maneuver needs to be made, a driver's gut reaction is usually to throw the steer into the wheel and hit the brakes.
Instead the pros recommend a technique called "brake straight and steer late". Basically a driver brakes in a straight line and steers away from the obstacle at the last second. This dramatically reduces the car’s forward momentum allowing a driver to steer away from something more easily.
Nothing makes a driver feel more out of control, then skidding. In a skid, our eyes usually lock on what we're desperately trying to avoid and we instinctively steer in the same direction we're looking. The trick is to pick a safe spot down the road and steer towards that, taking our foot off the accelerator, and slowly applying the brakes to slow down the car.
Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center: https://www.stcloudstate.edu/continuingstudies/mhsrc
Dakota County Technical College: http://www.dctc.edu/continuing-education/transportation-safety/accident-avoidance