You should take good care of your car to reduce its chances of getting stuck on the road due to malfunctioning or something. A car breakdown on the road can be a serious safety issue to you and other road users, so it should be avoided at all costs.
However, while preventive maintenance and good driving habits can keep the car healthy, a breakdown can still happen due to unforeseen technical failure. Your tire can be blown by roadway debris or a nail. The car engine can overheat due to a leakage
Therefore, you need to prepare for what to do should your car breaks down on the road. It can be more frustrating if your car breaks down and you are clueless about what next to do.
Also, note that how you react to breakdown incidents depends on each’s nature. Hence what we recommend is the standard procedure after car breakdowns.
That said, the following are the tips you can apply next time your car breaks down on the road:
1. Steer out of the Road
It is double trouble if your car fails in the middle of the road so where possible, drive out of the travel lanes. Cautiously steer the car to the roadside if possible.
It is safer to deal with the problem outside the traffic than in it. You should coast along the shoulder of the road until the road curves are behind you. This will help you get back onto the road since you will easily spot oncoming vehicles before they get closer.
2. Turn On Hazard Light
There are situations you can turn on the hazard lights before exiting the road. It should be the first line of reaction, actually; that is, if it wouldn’t slow your exiting time.
The situation you are in should determine what comes first. If the engine dies in the middle of the road, your only next course of action is turning on the hazard lights until help arrives because exiting is out of question at that moment.
Apart from the hazard lights, also turn on the interior lights if it’s night or dark in that location. You can go as far as hanging out a white cloth or paper on the driver’s window to alert other drivers that you are in trouble.
3. Stay in the Car
In the case of a dead engine in the middle of a high-traffic highway, stay in the car after turning on the hazards. Don’t hurry to come out to inspect the problem (burst tire, for instance) or cross the road on foot. The real danger now is in crossing the road, not remaining in the car.
So, if I can’t get out of the car, how do I eventually get out of the situation when my car breaks down? You should contact emergency services for roadside assistance; technology has made things easy. You can use an app to reach out to a mechanic or towing company nearby. Try calling even your insurance company. Still, you can dial 911 so that a traffic officer comes to manage the situation.
In short, you have no good reason for coming out of the car stuck on the highway, as long as you have a phone. Having your phone while driving is one way to be prepared for the unexpected.
What If I Have No Phone at the Time My Car Breaks Down On The Road?
If you have no phone when your car breaks down on the road, look around if you see an emergency call box. If you find one a few feet from you, use it to call for help, then right in the car.
4. Tighten Your Seat Belt
If you are stuck on the travel lane or beside the road but close enough to the traffic, wear your seatbelt. Chances are, another car can crash into your car from the rear.
Should anything happen, a seatbelt can minimize the impact. Also, put your head on the headrest.
5. Turn the Wheels away from Road
This applies if the nature of the breakdown lets you steer to the roadside. If it is a steep place where the car is likely to roll into the traffic, turn the wheels away from the road. Another car can also hit your rear, causing the roll.
Apply the emergency brake after that.
6. Enhance Visibility
You need to alert other road users to proceed with caution if you are able to park outside of the road. It is not unusual for a vehicle to drive straight into a disabled car by the roadside.
To be visible when your car breaks down on the road, do the following:
- Put on a reflective vest or jacket.
- Wave a flashlight.
- Set up reflective triangles/flares.
How Do I Prepare for Car Breakdowns?
To prepare for car breakdowns, arm yourself with the following items:
- a cell phone.
- Emergency service information (contacts).
- Flashlight and extra batteries for the flashlight.
- Reflective vest/jacket/signal flag.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Heavy-duty gloves.
- Notebook and pen.
- Spare tire.
Should I Accept Help from Strangers If My Car Breaks Down on the Road?
There are Good Samaritans and Bad Samaritans along the road, so while we cannot urge you to wave down other drivers offering to stop to help, you should be cautious, especially if it is a remote, less secure location.
You are at liberty to make that decision depending on the situation. Some situations are desperate while others are not. If you can afford to wait for the mechanic, there is no need to ask for help. However, if the weather is harsh, the place risky, or you are running out of time, you would have to seek the immediate help available. Only be cautious.
A car breakdown on the road can be frightening for a beginner. One must remain calm throughout the ordeal. Fear can trigger you to apply the emergency break even when it’s not necessary or even riskier than the breakdown.
Knowing what to do will keep you calm and on top of things. You don’t want your passengers to catch you panicking and shaking after a car breakdown.
At Pierre Paul Driving School, you learn not just how to drive a car well, but also the related aspects such as dealing with car breakdowns on the road. We prepare you for many other unexpected road incidents.