No one wants to have to deal with a crash, a broken-down vehicle or being stranded by the side of the road. But inevitably, at some point in your life, you will probably find yourself in a situation like this and being prepared can make a huge difference in easing your way through a difficult experience.
Prepping Yourself and Your Vehicle for Emergencies
Keeping your car well-maintained is the first step in avoiding an unexpected, and possibly costly, breakdown on the road. However, sometimes no matter how much you prepare, unanticipated events can cause your vehicle to break down or be rendered inoperable. You may encounter icy conditions, reckless driving by others, an object could fly out of the open truck bed in front of you and crack your windshield, or you might run over something that punctures your tire. Whatever the issue may be, knowing how to handle your car breaking down is important, not only for your own safety, but for others sharing the road during the event.
Part of prepping your car for emergency situations includes creating an emergency kit. Keep a box in your trunk filled with items like blankets, a change of clothes, a small snow shovel, extra cell phone chargers, water bottles, jumper cables, flares, flashlights, a flat tire repair kit, and a spare tire. You should also have a good snow brush/scraper and extra windshield wiper fluid.
Also make sure you have your insurance card, driver’s license and a charged cell phone with you at all times when you will be driving.
Check your route before heading out, check the weather conditions and make sure you have everything you need. Ensure that your car is functioning properly, no warning lights are lit on your dashboard, and that you have plenty of gas and windshield wiper fluid.
What To Do If Your Vehicle Breaks Down
The next time you find yourself stranded by the road, follow these vehicle breakdown tips to safely get yourself through it:
- Know the common reasons for breakdowns. Simply being aware of some of the common issues a car might have will help you prepare for and handle them should they occur. The majority of minor breakdowns usually involve a dead battery, flat tire, an overheated engine or running out of gas.
- Respect your vehicle’s warning signs! If your engine light is on, the windshield is broken, smoke is coming from your engine or you have a flat tire, pull off to a safe spot and stop driving. Driving an impaired vehicle is a danger to yourself and others, as well as a common cause of additional expensive damage to the car.
- Get your vehicle out of traffic. Pull off to the side of the road or get to a safe place as soon as possible. Staying in the middle of traffic will make it unsafe for everyone out there. However, if you can’t get your car out of the way, don’t attempt to get out and push it yourself. Wait for help to arrive.
- Stay with your car. It might be tempting to leave your car behind while you go get help, but it’s better to have help come to you. If you leave your vehicle unattended, it may end up being towed, costing you lots of unnecessary money and headaches to retrieve it. However, if you are unable to make a call and are within walking distance of help, leave a note on the dashboard explaining the situation and try to get back to your car as quickly as possible.
- Make your car as visible as you can. Turn your hazards on the moment your car begins to malfunction so other drivers know to steer clear of you. If you’ve got a roadside emergency kit with you, use some of the warning signals available – like flares or hazard triangles. Commercial motor vehicles are required to place the warning devices at 10’ and 100’ from the vehicle, facing towards approaching traffic and a device 100’ from the rear of the vehicle facing away from approaching traffic. If you are stopped along a curve or hill, a warning device should be placed 100’ to 500’ of the hillside to warn other drivers that your car is immobile. These same guidelines are recommended for passenger vehicles as well.
- Call roadside assistance if you have it. Many insurance companies and car dealerships offer roadside assistance, so check your policies and know if you have this feature available. Have the number programmed into your phone and written down and kept in your glove box. Roadside assistance can greatly help provide peace of mind to drivers, because they know that should an incident arise, help is just a phone call away!
It’s important not to panic when your car breaks down. Staying safe should be your top priority as you work towards finding a solution to the problem. Drive Team offers teen driving classes and corporate driver training to help prepare drivers for any situation on the road. Contact us today for more information.