No motorist is ever prepared for their vehicle breaking down, for most of us it is a major inconvenience that interrupts our day. Depending on where the breakdown happens, there are precautions you can take to make sure you and your passengers are safe.
Sometimes the damage is such that your car cannot be driven any further. However, you need to ensure you are safe. It may be a while before assistance arrives to help you get on with your journey or to tow you to the nearest garage for assessment of the repairs needed.
Observe the following to ensure you are as safe as possible while you wait for help on the roadside:
1. Stay visible
When stranded in a car that has broken down, ensure other motorists can see you and your car. Put the hazard lights on immediately after the breakdown regardless of whether it is night or day. Other drivers will easily see you and hopefully, come to your aid.
At the very least it will slow oncoming traffic and alert them to your predicament. This is especially important if you are blocking other users from using the road. Your car is a hazard that could cause an accident to road users that may not be paying careful attention.
Due to the danger of accidents occurring, you and all other car occupants ought to leave the car and find a safe spot to wait, well away from all other traffic. Do this before trying to call for help.
2. Know the location
Try to familiarise yourself with the area. Look around and try to identify landmarks such as shopping centres, petrol stations or any other specific focus points. Find a cross street if possible. Think about the last exit or street name you remember.
All this information will help the breakdown service know exactly where you are and thus come to your aid faster. There are also apps you can use to specifically find your location should an incident, like a breakdown, occur.
3. Get help as soon as possible
Try to get out of the breakdown vehicle as fast as you can. Make necessary calls as soon as it is safe to do so. Depending on your location and availability of a breakdown service, it may take a while for help to arrive.
Therefore, it is always important to call the local police department to let them know where you are, especially if your car is causing an obstruction on the road and is a danger to other drivers.
4. Stay by your car
Some people who have deadlines to meet could get tempted to leave their cars behind and find an alternative way of reaching their destination. It is important you stick with your vehicle until the breakdown service arrives.
The safest place for you to be is behind a crash barrier, while still having visual contact with your car. While exiting the car, remember to use the door that opens away from busy traffic.
5. Pull over in a safe location
Breakdowns mostly happen when least expected. Motorists are sometimes left with no choice of where to pull over. However, if you are able to choose where to stop, ensure you get a safe location. The designated breakdown spots on a motorway or a flat, easily assessible area would be examples of a safe location.
Near a steep verge or at a sharp bend would be very dangerous places to stop. Also if possible, avoid pulling where road construction is taking place. Such a spot will expose you to additional hazards.
6. Be careful with strangers
A breakdown can make you desperate for help. Stranded motorists are ready to receive help from anyone and it is likely to be strangers that will stop to help. The majority of whom will do so with genuine concern for your well being, with the aim to help you get on with your day.
However, there is a small minority that might take advantage of the situation and pretend to help only to put you in more danger. This is where it will help if the local police know of your predicament and may be on hand to help.