H.D. Thoreau once said “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.” However, when it comes to car accidents, the opposite could save your life.
All of us here at Wireless Defensive Driving want you to avoid a crash if possible, but as we know, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Although, there are many ways you can try to reduce the amount of collision damage. We like to call it choosing the path of least resistance.
Basically, if you know there is no choice but to hit something, aim for the thing that will do the least damage.
For example, let’s pretend a car cuts into your lane and forces you to go off the road and into the shoulder. Now, in the middle of all of this, you have to make a choice, you can either aim to hit the street sign, or the shrub of bushes. Which should you choose? The shrub. Hitting the metal street sign will make more of an impact on your car than the shrub would.
Here’s another example. If you have a choice of either swerving into oncoming traffic or hitting a mailbox, hit the mailbox. If you’re going to hit either another car or go into the ditch, go into the ditch. But, if you’re stuck between choosing a truck or a large tree, hit the truck. Because the roots of an old tree are so deep in the ground, it’s not going to budge when you hit it, putting a lot more force on your car than hitting the truck would. Neither are going to be good, but hitting the tree would be worse.
Unfortunately, the choice between what you should hit isn’t always going to be easy or obvious. There’s no set rule for what to choose every time, and like most emergency driving situations: You’ll have to decide quickly and in the moment.
Having a defensive driving state on mind, scanning the road and being aware of your surroundings, at all times, will allow for better decisions when under pressure. Please be prepared since there is often no warning for such situations. Keep in mind one important rule when dealing with a sudden obstacle, keep looking at the path leading to safety, not the obstacle itself (avoid obstacle fixation). You can practice this skill without getting in a wreck by asking yourself, “where would I go if…”. Play with the possibilities like, a guy walking in front of you, a car backing out of a parking space or a driver turning instead of yielding.
Take care, stay sharp.