Have you ever wondered what to do if your car breaks down on the highway? If this has happened before, it’s likely that you were not sure how to react. With some careful planning and preparation, there are some steps you can take in order to keep yourself safe while waiting for help next time around.
If it’s daytime, turn on your hazard lights
Hazard lights are named that for a reason. It lets other drivers know there is a hazard or danger present. Lights can still be turned on during the night or if there is heavy rainfall and fog, but not your hazards.
It’s also safer for you as well. If it’s sunny out, you want to make yourself as visible as possible in order for other drivers not to hit your car.
However, if it’s nighttime or there is heavy rainfall and fog, you should refrain from turning on your hazard lights. This is because when you turn on the hazards at night, it limits the vision of incoming drivers and they may end up driving into the back of your car if you’re not careful.
It’s also important for you to understand that putting on hazards may affect your car insurance rates. If you put them on, in some cases, it may cause your premiums to increase.
Get out of the car and stay visible to passing traffic
The reason you should remain visible to passing traffic is so they can see you and know that your car has broken down. If there are other cars on the road, drivers will feel the pressure if they drive past you. They wonder what will happen if their vehicle breaks down and are more motivated to help.
You want to make it appear as possible that you are stalled because if another vehicle comes speeding up behind you, they may not always recognize that you are broken down. They will see you as moving and may not realize they are about to drive into the back of your car.
On the other hand, if there is no oncoming traffic, it is more advisable for you to signal in order to get the attention of passing vehicles. Do this by turning on your hazard lights, if it’s daytime.
Put something reflective on the ground in front of your car so that you can be seen by drivers
This is another recommendation to increase your visibility. If you have something reflective, such as a reflector triangle or cones from roadwork, you can set it up in front of your car.
The bright colors will pop when headlights hit them and will alert cars that the area is dangerous and they should slow down. This also alerts drivers that you’re not just parked on the side of the highway, but you’re broken down. Someone may even be kind enough to call a Humble towing truck for you and save you the trouble and help you out.
The downside to flashing reflectors is that drivers may think that the area you are in is under construction and they may ignore it. However, it’s likely if there’s no traffic around and your car has been disabled for a period of time, this will increase your visibility to these slowed cars.
Call for help
Use a cell phone or roadside assistance service if possible, but don’t forget to tell them where you are located. If you have AAA or a similar roadside assistance service and have cell phone reception at your location, call them first to let them know where you are.
This way they can send the proper authorities out to help you as soon as possible. It’s also important to note that some states won’t dispatch emergency vehicles if there is no cell phone reception. If this is the case, you will want to drive to the nearest service station and ask for help there. This is where getting other drivers to see you is important. They can give you a lift there.
The reason for this is so you can be seen by other cars and if anything happens, there are people around who can call the proper authorities. If you’ve already called AAA or another roadside assistance service and they’re on their way to you, there’s no need to risk your safety by going somewhere with fewer people.
Stay in your car and wait for help
If after calling or placing a reflector by your vehicle, drivers are still not stopping to help, stay inside of your car. It’s best not to exit the vehicle because you don’t know what’s going on with drivers once they pass you. It may look like they’re slowing down to help, but if there’s more than one car and the first car didn’t stop, the second car might not either. Stay in your vehicle for safety reasons until a proper authority comes to help you.
Panic won’t help anyone. It will cause you to do things that are not comfortable and safe. If your car breaks down in a dangerous area, such as between two cliffs or next to a high traffic roadway, it’s extremely important that you remain calm.
If you panic in these scenarios, the most likely outcome is that you will exit your vehicle and start walking aimlessly in the wrong direction. Once drivers pass you, they cannot see where you went, and it’s easy to get lost in these situations.
It may take time for someone to arrive with a tow truck or other vehicle to get you off the road. If your car has been broken down for a long period of time, drivers will most likely think you’re not there anymore and drive past. This is why you should be visible. Don’t go wandering off hoping to hurry things along. Additionally, don’t do things that could jeopardize your safety. We cannot stress this enough. If there are no cars around, make your way to a public place where other people may see you.
It’s important to follow the advice above. When you are on the side of the highway for any reason, it`s important to maintain a level head. Don`t panic or try to do anything that may cause an accident (or worse).
The best thing you can do is keep yourself safe inside your vehicle while waiting for help to arrive. If there is someone else with you, make sure they know what steps not to take. Ultimately, the most important step after breaking down will be getting back on the road. Stay safe enough to do so.