Can you handle a breakdown?
I was recently driving along the freeway when I saw a driver stopped on the shoulder on the opposite side of the freeway. Their vehicle was broken down. That’s a terrible feeling for most drivers. Do you know what to do if your vehicle breaks down?
Get a roadside assistance membership, if you don’t already have one. That membership can help you if your vehicle breaks down, have a flat tire or even run out of gas. Just think of the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you’ll have help on the way if something happens. Think of it like insurance.
The driver I saw on the side of the freeway was at risk of being in a crash. There was another vehicle stopped right behind them, to help, and the drivers were standing in front of the disabled vehicle. What if a passing motorist hit the vehicle at the rear? That vehicle would push the lead vehicle and then into the people standing there. How do we protect the scene? If you decide to stop to help another driver, position your vehicle 6 to 8 vehicle lengths behind them with the wheels facing the curb/guardrail. If that vehicle gets pushed from behind, it won’t get pushed into the disabled vehicle.
I also recently saw a driver with a flat tire stopped at the side of the road. The flat was on the driver’s side and as they sat there and changed their tire, their back was next to traffic driving by. Wasn’t that a bit risky? Since drivers drive where they look, another driver could drift toward them as they passed. What should that driver have done once they realized they had a flat? Perhaps driving into a parking lot to change the tire would be more uplifting. There wouldn’t be as much traffic going by and the surface in the parking lot would be flatter compared to the road, which is somewhat crowned. (Tips on driving on a spare tire can be found HERE.)
Part of dealing with your vehicle if it breaks down is to communicate to the other road users so they don’t get caught up with it. Raising your hood up will send a message from a distance that your vehicle isn’t going anywhere. Also, put on your 4-way flashers to tell other drivers you aren’t moving. If possible, take your vehicle off the road completely. This helps the traffic to continue flowing as you repair it or wait for help. Have you ever thought about having flares or small pylons in your trunk? They can be used to guide other road users around you, especially if you’re vehicle is in a poorly seen area.
If your vehicle breaks down in a remote area, you may want to carry a cell phone, coins for the phone or a calling card. This makes it easier to call for help. Having peace of mind is important if your vehicle becomes unreliable from time to time. Plus, it helps you from having an emotional breakdown!