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11 Scary Driving Scenarios and Exactly How to Handle Them

Often when driving, we encounter situations that are out of our control. Make the right decisions when in a tight spot with these tips.

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wheelAlexandru Nika/Shutterstock

When There’s an Oncoming Car in your Lane

A car is coming straight toward you in your lane. Try getting its attention by honking and flashing your lights while planning a way to avoid them. Don’t stare at the oncoming vehicle, as your car will follow your line of sight. Instead, look where you want to go. Here are the crazy things people have done while driving.

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To Outsmart a Carjacker…

When getting into your car at night, be wary of carjackers by getting in quickly and locking the doors right away, instead of taking the time to move things around while the door is still open or relying on automatic locks. If you’ve gotten in your car to discover a carjacker waiting, get out as fast as possible. If the car is in drive but not moving just get out, and if you are in motion stop as fast as possible to leave. When a carjacker has reached from the back seat to cover your mouth, take one finger and peel it backward as hard as you can. Hopefully this will break the perpetrator’s finger and buy you some time to make a quick escape. Plus: Do these things to increase your driving comfort.

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If You’re Dealing with Blinding Sun…

Try to limit your reaction as much as possible. Don’t slam on the brakes or swerve, as this could pose a danger to both yourself and other drivers around you. Do your best to continue on your path and remain predictable to other drivers. Don’t miss these driving etiquette rules you’ve probably forgotten since drivers ed.

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tailgatingVera Petrunina/Shutterstock

When Someone Else is Tailgating…

If a car behind you is tailgating and honking, pull over and let it by. It may be an emergency, and either way it is unsafe to travel with another vehicle at such a close proximity. Plus: Check out these best practices for safe winter driving.

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If You Spot an Impaired Driver Ahead

If the car ahead of you is swerving and the driver appears to be impaired, give him plenty of room and do not tailgate. Pay close attention, but don’t fixate on the vehicle. Here are the things your mechanic won’t tell you.

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Not Sure How to Handle a Yellow Light at an Intersection?

If the light turns yellow as you’re approaching an intersection, use your judgment to determine the best course of action. Never go through a yellow light if you think you can stop before the light turns.

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tornadoMelanie Metz/Shutterstock

If There’s an Approaching Tornado

A tornado is quickly approaching and you’re stuck in your car. While your instinct may be to pull over under an overpass to wait it out, this plan still exposes you to the dangers of flying debris. Ascertain whether traffic is light and if it is, try driving out of the tornado’s path by moving at a right angle away from the vortex. If not, park and make your way inside a sturdy building. If you’re in open country, exit the car and try to get as far from any trees, cars, or other large structures and lie facedown, covering your head with your arms.

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If You See a Deer in the Road…

A deer jumps in the road right in front of your car, and you’re momentarily overcome with terror. Try to stay calm and avoid it with minimal braking and steering. Rash actions increase the chances that disaster will strike. This is how to keep deer out of your yard for good.

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stopCory A Ulrich/Shutterstock

Not Sure How to Proceed at a Four-Way Stop?

You’ve come to a four-way stop and you’re a little hazy on the rules of right-of-way. Try to make eye contact with the other drivers waiting to proceed. If you see them looking at you or waving, it’s safe to move forward.

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If You’re About to be Rear-Ended…

You’ve slowed your speed or come to a stop, but you see the car behind you is traveling at a much faster speed. Chances are you’re about to be rear-ended. Take your foot off the break so that if the car behind you hits you, your own vehicle will roll forward and lessen the severity of the impact. This is how to make your commute less stressful.

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If Your Car Gets Submerged in Water…

You’ve taken your eyes off the road for a moment and suddenly find your car sinking quickly in a body of water. Most people will wait until pressure equalizes to try and open the door, but instead you should move as quickly as possible to open the door and make your way to the surface. If the windows and doors are powered by automatic locks, you can probably still open them using buttons if you act quickly. If not, try to break the window using a shoe or a key poking out of your fist. Or, keep a small LifeHammer in your glove compartment. Target the window’s corners. Next, check out these maintenance tips that can extend the life of your car.