What to Do If Your Wheels Drop Off The Road

What happens if you have to pull off the road to avoid colliding with an obstacle in the roadway or another vehicle? Most roadways have shoulders where you can do just that. Some of these are paved and others are dirt or gravel. If you’re pulling off a paved road onto a different kind of terrain, be especially cautious, as these might have less traction and cause your vehicle to skid.

Soft Shoulder Sign

Regardless of the type of shoulder your wheels drop off onto, follow these steps to recover safely:

  1. Maintain control of your vehicle by slowing down and steering carefully. Do not yank the wheel or slam on the brake. Try to keep a firm grasp on the wheel and take your foot off the accelerator. Apply the brake gently.
  2. Check the flow of traffic. Wait for the right moment to pull back onto the road. If the surface of the shoulder is gravel, it will take you longer to gain speed, so wait for a larger opening.
  3. While signaling, pull onto the road and speed up quickly until you are going with the flow of traffic. Do not pull across more than one lane at a time. Pull into the first lane and gain speed, then signal and move into the next lane when it is safe to do so.

The most important thing to do when your wheels drop off the road is maintain your composure. No matter what kind of hazard you face, you need to be calm. If you panic, you are much less likely to choose the correct response and react to the hazard safely.