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Life saving tips - what you can do if the driver of the car you're in passes out

Life saving tips - what you can do if the driver of the car you're in passes out
PHOTO: sgCarMart

You are in the passenger seat while you notice your driver passed out and lost control of the vehicle. This sounds like a nasty nightmare or a scene straight out of Hollywood.

While it is something that is highly unlikely to happen to you, this was what happened on 1 October, when a selfless Singaporean used his car to block an out-of-control taxi so as to save the cab's four passengers.

So, what should you do if you find yourself in the unlikely position? Here are several tips on what you can try to do when you face such a situation.

1. Do not turn off the engine!

Turning off the engine will not stop the car in its tracks, instead, it will cut power steering and power brakes.

This will make the steering much heavier and make steering the car near impossible. You will also need to step much harder on the brakes for them to work!

If you turn the key completely off, or remove the key from the ignition barrel, you might even activate the steering lock, preventing you from steering the car!

2. Do not jump out of the car!

You've seen it in the movies. You thought the car wasn't moving that fast and you thought that you will surely land the right side up.

Nope, there's simply so many things that can go wrong if you were to jump out of a moving car.

Even if you are able to avoid getting hit by another passing vehicle, who's to say that you wouldn't land head first and sustain severe injuries?

3. Alert other road users of your predicament 

To reduce the chance of serious accidents occurring, you should try your best to alert other road users.

You should turn on the hazard lights, and sound the horn to get the attention of other road users. Winding down your windows and raising your hand helps, too.

Other road users will be able to either give you the space you need to slow the car down and stop it, or in the above-mentioned case, render assistance to stop the car.

4. Try to take over control of the vehicle 

With the driver slumped in his seat, there's nobody to steer the car away from obstacles.

If you have no intention to slam headfirst into a road divider, you'll need to do something to reduce the chance of a serious accident occurring.

The first thing to do, is to reach over and try to steer the car to safety. Additionally, you should try to get the driver's foot off the accelerator.

5. Stop the car from gaining speed

What if you can't get the driver's foot off the accelerator?

There's still a way. If it is a car with manual transmission, you can shift the gear to neutral, cutting power from being sent to the wheels. Shifting an automatic to 'N' will achieve the same effect.

While the car will not stop immediately, it will not continue to accelerate, thus reducing the chance of a serious accident occurring.

6. Try to slow the car down to a stop

If possible, try to reach into the driver's footwell with your right foot and use the brake to bring the car to a stop safely.

Of course, unless you are really flexible, or have a pair of really long legs, it is easier said than done.

Hence, you should also use the handbrake (if the car has one at the centre console area) to gradually slow the car down - don't yank at it, you might lock up the wheels and unsettle the car!

When you finally get the car to stop safely, you should engage the handbrake and turn the ignition off, to prevent any possibility of the car moving off again. With the car stopped, you can now contact emergency services.

This article was first published in sgCarMart.

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