State Police: Don’t panic if you run off the road

Published 10:41 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Louisiana State Police Trooper First Class Nick Manale said Monday that statistics are not kept specifically on crashes where drivers have run off the roadway, overcorrected, lost control of their vehicles and lost their lives.  

But it is a common scenario in traffic fatality reports in Washington Parish, and the trooper, the spokesman for Troop L, described the problem and offered some advice.

“The vast majority of single vehicle crashes investigated by LSP result from a driver’s actions while behind the wheel,” Manale said. “Troopers often see that vehicles will drift or leave the roadway for a variety of reasons, including driver impairment, fatigue, distraction, etc.  

“Often when the vehicle initially leaves the paved road, the driver panics and overcorrects or sharply steers the vehicle back towards the roadway in an uncontrolled jerking reaction. This often results in the vehicle rotating or traveling farther than intended in the direction of the overcorrection, and overturning and/or leaving the roadway on the opposite side of the highway.”  

He advises drivers who find themselves off road to not panic or move too fast.

“When drivers find themselves beginning to run off road or off road entirely, they should smoothly steer their vehicle at a slight angle to slowly return to the paved portion of the roadway,” Manale said. “In addition, drivers should avoid the initial reaction to brake sharply, as this will further cause the vehicle to lose traction and lose control.  

Manale said motorists are advised to refrain from braking or accelerating and to instead let the vehicle’s momentum move it forward while smoothly steering back toward the roadway.

State troopers actually practice that technique by forcing their vehicles off-road and returning them in a controlled, safe manner during the annual LSP driving training, he said.

Knowing how to get a truck or car back onto a roadway safely is good, but one thing is better, Manale said.

“Of course the best solution is to remain vigilant while behind the wheel at all times and to avoid dangerous behaviors that would lead to your vehicle leaving the roadway entirely,” he said.