Keeping your head about you and practicing safe, "defensive" driving techniques will help keep you out of most sticky predicaments. However, you should prepare yourself for the possibility of a situation in which you have to react evasively, think quickly, and keep yourself and your vehicle from harm at the hands of another driver.
Some common examples include the driver that doesn't see you and pulls right out in front of you, slamming on his brakes reflexively. Or perhaps a driver runs a red light and you have only a split second to react and stay out of the intersection. Perhaps an aggressive driver is behind you, and you just need to get out of their way as quickly as possible. Any of these can result in an accident or worse. When these situations arise, you should be confident in your evasive and emergency driving skills and know that you won't panic and make the situation worse with too hasty a reaction.
First and foremost, get to know your vehicle. You may not have done this since you were first learning how to drive, but find an empty parking lot or an infrequently-traveled or deserted road.
Practice the Following:
Quick panic stops – With your vehicle travelling at 25-30 mph, try to make as quick a stop as possible. Be sure not to do this more than once in a row without letting the brakes cool off! Press firmly on the brake pedal to get a sense of just how effective Ford's anti-lock braking system can be in these situations.
Swerving – There may be a time when you have to change lanes quickly or avoid other hazards. A common example of this is during highway travel when one lane is suddenly at a stand-still and you must panic brake or swerve to avoid a collision. The safest choice in this situation if you are in the right of left lanes of travel – even if you think you have enough room to brake – is to swerve your car to the shoulder. You may not have as much room as you think and the person behind you may not be as alert as you. Swerving properly, then, helps avoid collisions on both ends of your vehicle.
To practice – in the practice environment – turn your vehicle to simulate these situations and note how it reacts to sudden direction changes. Again, it is of the utmost importance that you stay alert even in the practice situation to both obstacles and other vehicles. Ford's proving ground test drivers run Ford vehicles through rigorous testing to help anticipate vehicle reaction in just these situations, so get to know your vehicle's reaction for your own sake, but be confident that your vehicle will handle reliably and don't push it too hard.
(Keep in mind that while it's important to know your vehicle's limits, keep these activities to the minimum you need to learn these tactics in order to avoid excessive wear on the vehicle.)
You should also practice these maneuvers in both dry and rainy conditions. If you know an experienced driver who can lend experience to this practice, bring them along as they may provide valuable insight.
Make sure that you and any passengers' safety belts are securely fastened at all times. If you've chosen your spot well, there should be no traffic, but be diligent in keeping an eye out for other vehicles.
Now that you have a sense of your vehicle's ability, visualize some of the above-mentioned situations (and any others you or someone you know might have encountered) and plan how you would react.
Practicing sound defensive driving (check and double check your mirrors and blind spots, signal early, obey the laws of the road, etc.) will help keep you out of most situations, but having an emergency plan and the skills to execute it will help give you peace of mind.
Planning ahead is crucial to safe driving.