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Sometimes when a driver is surprised by the unexpected — an animal running across the road or another vehicle merging into the same lane without a signal — a typical reflex action occurs, and the driver makes an attempt to remedy the situation quickly by jerking the wheel in the opposite direction.

This reaction causes the vehicle to suddenly pull to the other side, often sending the vehicle across the roadway or causing it to roll. Instead, if your vehicle leaves the road, you should follow these guidelines:

• Do not panic!
• Slow down by easing off the accelerator.
• Slowly apply the brakes.
• Bring the vehicle to a stop and then try to get back on the road.

Whenever a vehicle departs from its lane or runs off the road, it is mostly due to driver error. Typical factors contributing to driver error include:

• Speeding on sharp curve or steep grade
• Distraction
• Drowsiness
• Not paying attention
• Intoxication
• Fatigue
• Poor nighttime visibility

The best way to avoid a roadway departure is to always be alert, attentive and clearheaded when driving and to conduct periodic inspection and maintenance of your vehicle.

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