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What to do in a Roadside Emergency

Emergency sign

While thousands of motorists each year experience car trouble, only a small number of drivers are prepared to deal with emergencies. Prepare yourself by reviewing these precautions now, to keep you and your family safe in the event of a roadside breakdown.

If you break down, take these precautions:

Pulling off the road
  • Avoid stopping in a dangerous place, such as the crest of a hill or on a blind curve.
  • If it is safe to do so, keep driving, gradually reducing your speed. Use your turn signal (not your hazard/emergency flashers) so that other drivers know that you are pulling off the road. Check for traffic and when the way is clear, drive completely onto the shoulder.
On the side of the road
  • After you have stopped, if you have a cellular phone, immediately use it to call for help.
  • Turn on your hazard lights and raise the hood of the vehicle. In the case of an overheating motor, raise the trunk lid or tail-gate of the vehicle rather than of the hood, as scalding coolant spraying around the engine compartment has the potential to cause severe burns.
On the highway
  • If your vehicle loses power and stops in a live lane on the highway, put on your hazard lights to warn approaching traffic.
  • In darkness or inclement weather, you should turn on the low-beam headlights.
  • Many traffic safety experts recommend that you remain in the vehicle and keep the seat belt fastened. If the worst happens and another vehicle collides with yours, you will have the safety of the car to protect you. You should only attempt to exit the vehicle when you can safely get clear of oncoming traffic and can wait well off the highway and ahead of your vehicle. If there are guardrails, wait behind them.
In the winter
  • In winter, stay in the vehicle and keep the windows and doors closed to keep the ambient warmth in the car. Many who wander away from their cars end up suffering from hypothermia.

These tips are intended as a guide only and do not include every possible scenario. It also helps to be proactive: to arrive safely at your destination, you also need to ensure that your vehicle will go the distance. It is important to be both mentally and physically prepared to face any challenges along the way.