Anyone who has ever had their car breakdown while driving can tell you it’s no fun at all. Whether your dashboard is lighting up and dinging or the whole vehicle just stalls out, the uncertainty of what to do next can be anxiety-provoking. Before you find yourself in a situation like that, take a minute to read these tips.
- If your car starts sending you signals that something isn’t working properly, maneuver to the right-hand shoulder as soon as you can. If you’re on a fast-moving multi-lane road, this is especially important. Don’t panic, but do put your signal on, check those mirrors and make your way over.
- Try to pull over as quickly as you can, but look for the safest place to do so. If you can, get to a straight stretch of road away from curves and potential blind spots. This will make you more visible for oncoming traffic. Also, if you need to leave your car to walk for help, you won’t have to run across lanes of traffic.
- If it’s dark out, turn on your interior light. This will make you more visible as well. However, keep the engine running if you’re able to so that the lights don’t simply drain your battery.
- If it’s light out, turn on your hazard lights/emergency blinkers to warn oncoming traffic. (This isn’t recommended at night because it can make your car appear to be moving and more likely to get hit by oncoming vehicles.)
- Do not attempt to change a flat tire unless it’s on side of the car that is away from traffic or you’re able to pull far enough away from the road to do so safely. This is particularly important if the area is not well-lit. If you need to check the engine, do so only from the side of the vehicle that is away from traffic also.
- If you have lights or flares and you can safely set them up, do so about six feet behind your car to warn other vehicles.
- If you’re not able to continue on, call for help from your roadside assistance provider or the highway patrol. An emergency call box may be nearby, so look for one if you don’t have a cell phone or you cannot get a signal.
- Hang a white cloth or paper from your window to alert other drivers and the highway patrol that you need help if you’re unable to call for assistance.
Hopefully you never need breakdown on the side of the road, but if you do, think safety first and get help!
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