Driving Guide

Special Driving Skills

Michelin 18 May 2010

Under emergency

1. Principles to follow in an emergency

When faced with an emergency driving situation, the golden rule is to remain calm and not to panic. These will help you make rational, calm decisions when every second counts.

  • You main priority is to save lives.  If an accident is unavoidable, take priority actions that ensure the safety of human life. Cars can be replaced, people can't.
  • Steer before braking - try and brake in a straight line if possible.
  • If you are driving at high speed when the emergency occurs, try to avoid sudden steering.
  • You can steer far more effectively at slower speeds, and reduce the impact of the collision. So aim to slow down as much as possible.
  • Turn on your hazard lights immediately.


Sudden steering at high speed may result in accidents that can otherwise be avoided. It may cause the vehicle to skid into a collision or even turn over.

2. Responding to a puncture while moving

  • Keep the direction of the car as straight as possible.
  • Don’t brake too hard. Brake slowly to lower the speed.
  • Shift to a lower gear quickly, and use the engine to slow down.
  • Bring the car to a halt in a safe place.


Always keep both hands on the steering wheel and grip firmly. This may save your life in case of a sudden rapid deflation.

3. Emergency measures during loss of steering control

When you lose control of your steering, the following actions should be taken:

  • Release the accelerator pedal gently.
  • Steer the car in the direction where the back of the car is sliding.
  • Do not use the hand brake when the speed is very high.
  • Shift to lower gear quickly and use the engine to slow down.
  • Turn on the hazard lights as quickly as you can.
  • Park on a safe spot and set up warning signs.
  • Apply hand brake.

4. Emergency measures when the brake doesn’t work

If your brakes stop working, hold the steering wheel more firmly. If this happens before entering a bend, try and control the direction first. Then try to slow down. Apply the hand brake if the speed is below 20 mph. Then shift quickly to a lower gear.

  • Shift down gears step by step to slow down.
  • Turn on the emergency alarm lights.
  • Use the handbrake to stop the car if the speed is below 20 mph.
  • Use slopes or obstacles to help stop the car.
  • If your brake stops working when going up a slope, shift quickly to lower gear, then use the handbrake to park the car.
  • If available, park in an emergency parking lane, lay by or hard shoulder. If not, then anywhere away from fast traffic.


Test brakes before your journey.  Always test your brakes when you first start down a steep hill or if you have driven through standing water.
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