July 28th, 2015
We've all had that sinking feeling before as we drive down the highway. The car's engine starts sputtering, the gas light flashes on and the next thing you know, your car is dead and you're stranded on the side of the road. Getting stuck on the side of the road is a dangerous predicament no matter how long you've been a driver. In fact, according to a recent survey from Allstate Roadside Services, among drivers who had been stuck on the side of road, 62 percent of respondents said they felt anxiety, 52 percent noted feelings of anger, 47 percent stated being overwhelmed and helpless and 36 admitted to be being scared.
Before embarking on any long-distance trip, you should always take some preventative measures to reduce the need for reactive ones. As AAA noted, vehicles that have been well-maintained rarely become disabled and break down. It's always wise to regularly schedule tune-ups for your car, including oil changes, fluid checks and belt and hose inspections. In addition, make sure your tires are always properly inflated before leaving. Consider adding an emergency kit to your car as well. One of these should include an extra cellphone charger for the car, the vehicle operating manual, flashlight with batteries, a toolkit, first-aid kit and, depending on the time of year, either some blankets or warming pads. Be sure your spare tire is not flat, since the underutilization of a spare tire will cause it to lose air over time. Also, ensure the car has a tire jack and lug wrench in case you or someone else needs to change the tire. Lastly, always make sure to have jumper cables in case the battery dies.
However, if an emergency does force you to stop on the shoulder or side of the road, here are four tips to help you stay safe and get help:
1. Pull over
Even something seriously wrong happens to your car - a tire blowout, running out of gas or an engine failure - it won't automatically stop moving. Usually you can use momentum and what little power is left in the vehicle to pull off to the side of the road. Often there's not enough room for the car on the shoulder, or if there is, it's not paved. These spots are designed solely as a means for vehicles having problems and should not be used simply to talk on a cellphone or check a map. Pay attention to your location by taking note of the road's mile marker, a major exit or landmarks.
2. Alert motorists
Alert other motorists of your problem by putting on your hazard lights. If you have a vehicle safety kit in your car, it might come with neon orange warning triangles or flares that you can arrange around your vehicle so other motorists know there's a problem. However, if you smell fumes and suspect there's a fuel leak, do not light any flares around the vehicle. Popping the hood is also another clear signal to other motorists that you're having car troubles.
"If you can call for help, do so immediately."
3. Communicate the problem
If you can call for help, do it. According to the Allstate survey, the first response for 40 percent of respondents was to immediately call for help. While the majority of individuals now have cellphones, there's still a chance of the cellphone battery draining or you not getting any reception. In a scenario where you don't have cellphone usage, you will have to wait until a law enforcement agent or department of transportation crew makes their regular rounds.
4. Remain with the vehicle
Despite a possible desire to walk away to find assistance, remain with your vehicle at all times. An abandoned vehicle can be towed away without notice. Walking down the side of a highway is not only dangerous, it is also typically illegal in most places. Do not keep the engine running or the lights on, since this can drain the battery.
Car troubles are never any fun, but with the right auto insurance, you can get the repairs you need. CoverHound provides auto insurance quotes from its convenient website.