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When one or more professional truck drivers disregard safe operating procedures, emergencies happen. By using safe driving techniques, you may lessen your chances of encountering an emergency as a professional driver. Unfortunately, even the safest and most responsible professional drivers sometimes encounter emergency circumstances. This chapter will discuss the significance of identifying an emergency as well as strategies for handling it safely.


The Role of Emergency Maneuvers


Preventing an emergency before it arises is the safest and most effective course of action. Many emergencies may be avoided with good driving techniques, danger awareness strategies, and routine maintenance.


Driver mistake often plays a significant part in an emergency. The primary reason is failure to follow safe operating procedures.


Evasive Steering


In most cases, steering to escape a situation is safer than attempting to stop. Evasive steering offers a higher chance of avoiding a collision than trying to stop if an escape route is available. constant risk-scanning, appropriate following distance, and good driver and vehicle preparation are key.

The two most common escape routes are another lane of traffic and the shoulder of the road. If a lane is available, a quick lane change is the best escape route. If a lane change is impossible or dangerous, the shoulder of the road provides an alternate escape route. Evasive steering, when done correctly, is generally safe. A number of factors can affect the outcome of an evasive steering maneuver. Be aware of these factors. React accordingly. The best results are achieved when you are hauling stable cargo with a low center of gravity and are able to steer onto a firm road or shoulder.


General procedures — When evasive steering, minimize the amount of turning necessary. Start the maneuver as soon as possible; as soon as you see the emergency/hazard. The earlier an evasive maneuver starts, the less steering input is needed to avoid the emergency/hazard.


Just enough turns should be made. Do not oversteer. Keep in mind that the likelihood of a jackknife or rollover increases with increasing steering input.


As soon as you can, turn. Cross your hands while you steer. The wheel should turn in either direction for around 180 degrees. You may do a 180-degree turn while driving by holding the steering wheel in the 9:00 and 3:00 positions.


When turning, avoid braking. The tractor and trailer wheels might lock up as a consequence of braking, which could lead to a loss of control.


Stop before you turn. Before turning, slow down by using the brakes. This lowers the possibility of a jackknife or rollover and enables your car to turn more abruptly.


Be prepared to countersteer as soon as the evasive turn is completed. You must countersteer swiftly and smoothly to keep your automobile from straying from your escape route, either into the shoulder or into another lane of traffic. Start countersteering as soon as your automobile passes the impediment.


The usage of a seat belt is crucial at all times (and is mandated by law in virtually all jurisdictions), but it is particularly crucial while performing an evasive maneuver. If you are not wearing a seat belt, a rapid turn might force you to slip out of the driver's seat and lose control of your car.


The specifics of how an evasive movement is carried out depending on the circumstance. These specific actions may be required in the following situations: Oncoming vehicles; Stopped vehicles; and Merging vehicles.


Oncoming vehicle — Veer to the right to avoid being hit by one. To grab the driver's attention, honk your horn. The motorist can be startled by this and adjust their behavior as a result. Don't take a left turn. A head-on accident might result from moving into the left lane.


Stopped vehicle — If the left lane is open and your car is stopped, move into it. Swerving to the right might result in you sideswiping a car in front of you. Your cab's height should let you look in front to check whether the left lane is free. Observe what is beside your car as well. When deciding if it is safe to change lanes, look in your mirrors.


If the left lane is blocked and there is a clean shoulder nearby, you may be able to go to the right.


Choose to steer into the lane that poses the least risk if you are in the center lane of a multi-lane road. If not, veer to the right. Forcefully driving another car into oncoming traffic is preferable to forcing that vehicle into the shoulder.


Merging vehicle — Sound your horn when another car comes into your lane, creating an emergency scenario. The opposing motorist usually notices this and stops or adjusts his or her activity as a result. Your need for evasive steering may be reduced as a result. Remember that although honking your horn may startle or offend another vehicle, it will signal your presence and alert them to a potential issue.


If the vehicle continues to converge (merge), swerve away from the vehicle. Don’t try to steer behind it. If the other vehicle should stop, this would cause a collision.


If steering away from a merging car takes you into the line of oncoming traffic, do not do so. Instead of swerving into the path of an approaching car, it is preferable to crash at an angle with the merging vehicle.



Emergency Stopping


Overusing the brakes may lock up the wheels of your car, causing it to slide and perhaps jackknife. Also possible is losing control of your car. By using proper emergency braking, you may stop your car with the least amount of space while still keeping control of it.

There are two emergency braking techniques that can be used to safely stop your vehicle: Controlled braking; and Stab braking.


Controlled braking — Controlled braking is applying the brakes gradually and keeping them applied just short of locking up. Remember that it might be hard to predict when anything will lock up. Practice in the vehicle you're driving is necessary to develop this competence.

Stab braking — Apply the brakes during stab braking. When the wheels lock, slightly release the brake pedal. Maximum braking is accomplished by using the brakes. Avoiding a skid requires releasing or backing off the brakes. Reapply the brakes when the wheels start to move again. Make careful to give the wheels a chance to spin again in between each stab. A skid will result from applying the brakes again too rapidly. Up until your car has slowed down sufficiently for a safe stop or turn maneuver, repeat the stab braking process.


Off-Road Recovery


The best escape route is often found at the side of the road. As was previously said, using the roadside is preferable to hitting another car.


Drivers often worry about leaving the road. Many people worry that utilizing the side of the road as an evasive move would end in an accident or collision. The truth is that driving while tired or under the influence causes a large number of reported roadside collisions. Remember that a lot of evasive techniques work and go unreported.


To recover successfully off-road, you often need to stop driving right away. Drivers often reacted too late. An incorrect approach is to blame for the majority of off-road recovery crashes/accidents.

When the roadside is broad enough to allow the car and hard enough to sustain the vehicle, off-road recovery is often safe.


General procedures — Brake before turning, lower speed as much as possible, and employ controlled or stab braking to minimize loss of control if you must veer off the road to escape an accident. If you're driving a car with antilock brakes (ABS), keep braking until you get to a safe speed.


Controlling the steering is crucial. Unless you have complete ABS, avoid braking when turning since the car is more prone to slide under braking. Full ABS allows you to steer and stop simultaneously without losing control of your car.


Cut down on turning. If at all possible, keep one pair of wheels on the pavement. This will help you get traction and keep control. Keep your path as straight as you can. Keep in mind that every curve increases the risk of a skid.


Resist the urge to get back to the road if the side of the road is clear. Focus on steering while maintaining a firm grip on the wheel.


As soon as your car comes to a full stop, stay by the side of the road. Permit the car to stop and slow down the engine compression. Only when you've slowed down should you use the brakes. Once the emergency has subsided, signal and check your mirror before moving back into the traffic lane.


You'll need to get back to the road more rapidly if a parked car, a sign, or another obstruction is blocking the side of the road. If this occurs, give your car as much time as it needs to slow down before getting back on the road. Next, quickly spin the steering wheel in the direction of the road. You risk losing control of your car if you try to slowly return to the road. When you make a steep turn, you may countersteer and identify the location where you will rejoin the road.


When you are back on the road, countersteer. Quickly do a U-turn in the direction of the road. As soon as the steering axle of the right front wheel touches the ground, turn. Countersteering and turning back into the road should be done as a single, coordinated steering action.


The wheels of a truck will often come off the pavement if it is too near to the edge of the road. If this occurs, stay away from going back onto the road right away. Keeping control is simple when one side of the rig is on the pavement. If you attempt to return to the road too soon, the car can flip over or swerve across the street.


When your vehicle’s wheels drop off the pavement, follow the same proce- dure as off-road recovery.


Brake Failure


A well-maintained braking system seldom totally fails. Even yet, brake failures do happen. As a consequence, you are no longer in charge of the car. Maintaining composure is essential to getting your car under control in this scenario, as it is in any emergency.


Causes — There are four common causes of brake failure:

  • Loss of air pressure;

  • Air blockage;

  • Brake fade;

  • Mechanical failure.


Loss of air pressure — When the air pressure is too low, an alarm buzzer will go out, and/or an instrument panel light will come on. Stop right away. Your brakes might stop working entirely if there is a sustained decrease in air pressure. Your brakes will lock up, as a result, making it impossible for your car to move.


When the amount of air loss reaches a crucial level, your brakes should automatically engage (between 20-40 psi). When there is still sufficient air in the system to stop your car, this occurs. Do bear in mind that even if everything operates as intended, air loss may occur too rapidly and lead to air exhaustion before the vehicle comes to a stop. Additionally, since the trailer brakes also rely on the air system, the separate trailer brake valve is ineffective.


The brakes will activate automatically on a vehicle equipped with spring- loaded parking brakes when air pressure fails. This will generally bring the vehicle to a stop, unless it is on a steep grade.


Air blockage — An obstruction may stop air from getting to the brakes.Water freezing in the air system or dirt getting into the glad hands are two typical causes of this..


Brake fade — Brakes may overheat and fade on lengthy descents. Wheel rotation will no longer be stopped by the brakes. The brakes take a while to cool off.


Mechanical failure — Brake failure can result from a failure in the mechanical linkage. Rarely are all brakes affected at once. Usually, in this situation, the vehicle can be stopped.


General procedures — The following steps should be followed if your vehicle’s brake system fails:


STEP 1. Downshift — If you're on a pretty flat road, shifting down will assist you to slow down your car. Till your car has slowed down enough for you to engage the parking brake, keep downshifting. If you are on a downhill, do not attempt to downshift.


STEP 2. Escape route — Locate an escape path when you slow down your car.

An open field, a side roadway, or an escape ramp are all potential safe escape routes. Another strategy to slow down and stop your car is to turn uphill. If you must utilize a slope to slow your car, put the parking brake on before stopping to prevent it from rolling backward.


STEP 3. Downgrade procedures — You will need to search outside your car for anything to assist slow down and stopping if your brakes fail on a descent. The use of an escape ramp is one alternative. Escape ramps are designed to halt a fleeing vehicle securely. A vehicle is slowed down and stopped using an escape ramp made of a soft substance, such as gravel or sand.


If there isn't a side road that goes upward or across an open field, those are your other possibilities.


As soon as you realize your brakes aren't functioning, move to slow down your car. The speed of the car increases and stops becoming tougher the longer you wait.




Tire pressure loss that occurs suddenly is referred to as a "blowout." Tires that are worn out, fractures in the tire casing, or damage from objects like potholes, nails, or debris may all cause blowouts. Always remember that a thorough pre-trip check may stop blowouts brought on by wear.


A front tire blowout interferes with steering and may lead the car to swerve in the blowout's direction. You could feel the back of the tractor move from side to side if the rear tires of the tractor blow out. It is tougher to notice a blowout in a trailer tire. You could hear the tire blowing out, see it in your side mirrors, or have trouble controlling the car.


The sooner you are aware of a tire blowout, the more time you have to react. The major signs of tire failure are:

  • Sound;

  • Vibration; and

  • Feel.


Sound — A blowout is quickly identified by the loud explosion it makes. Always presume that any tire blowing you hear is coming from one of your car's tires.


Vibration — If your car is excessively vibrating or thumps, one of the tires may be flat.


Feel — If the steering is heavy, one of the front tires likely has failed. When a rear tire fails, a car may sometimes fishtail or slide back and forth.


Procedure — There are five steps to follow to safely handle tire failure.


  1. Be aware the tire has failed.

  2. Accelerate to overcome drag.

  3. Hold the steering wheel firmly. If a front tire fails, it can twist the steering wheel out of your hands.

  4. Don't press the brake. When a tire fails, braking may lead to loss of control. Keep your foot off the brake until the car has slowed down unless you are going to crash with anything. Next, softly brake, veer off the road, and come to a halt.

  5. After coming to a halt, exit the car and inspect each tire. Performing a visual inspection may be the only method to identify the issue if one of your dual tires fails.




The importance of appropriately carrying out emergency operations including evasive steering, emergency braking, and off-road recovery has been covered in this chapter. Additionally, you have learned how to use conventional methods to deal with brake failure and tire blowouts.

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