Your car breaking down on a busy highway or interstate not only puts you at risk, but other drivers as well. With cars, SUVs and semis zooming by, it’s easy to panic. So what should you do if your car breaks down on the highway?
You can prepare, minimize stress and maintain calm by keeping the following guidelines in mind and being ready for breakdowns before they happen.
At the first sign of car trouble, gently and smoothly take your foot off the accelerator. Do not brake hard or suddenly. Carefully work your vehicle toward the breakdown lane or the side of the road. If you are on an interstate, try to reach an exit. Signal your intentions to drivers behind you. If it is necessary to change lanes, watch your mirrors and the traffic around you closely.
Next, call attention to yourself and your vehicle. You want to be seen quickly from as far a distance as possible. Turn on your hazard lights, don a reflective vest, wave a flashlight and set up reflective triangles or flares. If you can’t remove the vehicle from the travel lane and can’t exit, contact emergency services, turn on your hazard lights and keep your seatbelt on.
Despite vehicle advances, it’s likely you’ll have a car breakdown at some point, such as a blown tire from a nail or roadway debris. Stay safe by being prepared for such emergencies. Kits are inexpensive and may be bought at discount or drug stores.
If your car is safely out of traffic, wait inside the vehicle with the doors locked. Use your cellular phone to call for help. If someone stops and offers to help, open the window slightly and ask them to call the police.
Watch for a uniformed police officer or other emergency personnel. All interstate highways and major roads are patrolled regularly. Also, some highways have special “call-for-help” phones.
It is inadvisable to walk on an interstate, especially during inclement weather. However, if you can reach a source of help on foot, without jeopardizing your physical or personal safety, try the direct approach by walking. Keep as far from traffic as possible and walk on the right side of the roadway. Never attempt to cross a multi-lane, high speed roadway.
Staying calm, steering out of traffic if possible, and being prepared for an emergency can help you stay safe when your car breaks down on the highway.
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