12 Mar Roadside Emergency Tips
No one expects a car accident or breakdown to happen, but if either does, you’ll want to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. It may be no big deal to break down during the middle of a breezy spring day, but this annoyance quickly becomes a life-threatening situation if there’s rush hour traffic or a major rainstorm coming your way. Winter weather, extreme heat, flooding, impaired visibility, injuries and long waits can all throw a kink into what you thought was a well-thought out emergency plan.
If you’re not sure if your plan measures up, compare it to these tried-and-true roadside emergency tips so you and your family stay safe in the event of a breakdown, car malfunction or accident.
Things to Do Before an Emergency Occurs
Many emergencies can be prevented by keeping up with regular car maintenance. Your mechanic can check your brake pads and brake fluid levels, change your oil and inspect your vehicle for any safety malfunctions before they become a larger issue. It’s also a good idea to sign up for a roadside assistance plan. Even though they cost money, the services you get for free when you’re in a pinch can easily outweigh the cost of a subscription.
You also want to make sure your car is fully loaded with emergency essentials before anything inconvenient or tragic happens. The last thing you need is to be shivering or sweating in your car or nursing an undressed injury after a surprise accident or breakdown. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Food and water
- First aid kit
- Car manual
- Crank or hand-squeeze flashlight
- Pen and paper
- Fire extinguisher
- Something to do while you wait
- Jumper cable
- Spare tire
- Tire jack
What to Do When an Emergency Happens
You’ll want to rehearse the following steps in your head and perhaps perform a real practice run in your driveway before an emergency situation strikes. Sometimes the shock of a major malfunction or collision can cause forgetfulness.
1. Get out of the way –
Your tire has blown out, someone rear-ended you or your car just lost steam. Whatever happened, prioritize getting off the main road as soon as possible.
Use your hazards or signals and exit toward the righthand side of the road. If you’re on a highway, you can pull off into a shoulder or exit the freeway so you can stop on a smaller road. If you’re on a regular street, pull into a breakdown lane, off the road if there’s flat, solid ground or into a nearby parking lot. Get as far away from traffic as possible to minimize the chance of someone sideswiping your vehicle. Above all else, avoid steering left, as you don’t want to be hit by fast traffic.
2. Put on your hazards –
If you haven’t already, push your hazards button, which looks like a red triangle. This will cause both of your turn signal lights to flash and alert other drivers that there’s a problem with your car. Your hazards ensure your car will be visible on a foggy day, at nighttime or along a curved road. It will also make it easier for emergency vehicles, tow trucks or roadside assistance to find your car.
3. Make sure your car doesn’t roll away –
People often forget this crucial step. Once you’ve found a safe place to pull over, make sure your wheels are turned diagonally toward the right and activate your emergency brake. This will prevent your car from rolling back into traffic or down a hill to cause an accident.
4. Exit the vehicle carefully if you can –
If you can’t exit your vehicle without exposing yourself to oncoming traffic, stay in your car. It’s much worse to be hit as a pedestrian than in a stopped vehicle. If your driver door would swing out into traffic if you were to open it, crawl out the passenger side of your car. Of course, if your car is smoking or on fire, turn the engine off, get out immediately and move far, far away.
5. Mark your car –
Your hazards are helpful, but they aren’t always enough to catch the attention of cars that are further away. Consider keeping flares or reflective triangles in your car at all times in case of an emergency. If it’s safe to do so, pop the hood of your car as well.
6. Assess the situation –
If you are in an accident, you’ll want to get the other driver’s information, such as their insurance policy information, phone number and license plate number. Don’t let them pay you and leave without talking to the police and going through the insurance claim process. They may swindle you and offer far less than the value of your car damages or medical bills.
If your car broke down, try to see if the malfunction is severe or minor. You can potentially fix a flat tire on your own, for instance, whereas you’ll need the car to be serviced or towed if your oil is depleted or your timing belt is snapped. In cases where you can safely jumpstart your car with the help of another driver, you may be able to get to a repair shop without needing a tow truck.
7. Call for assistance and wait –
Call 911 if someone is injured, whether they have whiplash and dizziness or they’re bleeding. What you think is a minor problem that can be fixed at urgent care later may be a more pressing medical emergency. In an accident, always wait for police to get there and take your information – you don’t want to be responsible for a hit-and-run.
In the case of a breakdown, call roadside assistance or a tow truck and wait for them to get there. It might be tempting to run to the nearest gas station for a soda; but resist the urge to abandon your car.
Receive Help From an Accident Doctor or Attorney in Atlanta, GA
People love to point fingers after a car accident, especially when there are large medical bills to pay. If you don’t take steps to protect yourself, you may find yourself struggling to pay for treatments and surgeries for years to come.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, the accident attorneys and accident doctors at 1-800-HURT911 will fight for you to receive adequate compensation for your injury treatment and medical care. Contact us online or call 1-800-487-8911 today for your FREE consultation.