Even with all the technology enhancements to our vehicles today, there are still millions of roadside emergencies happening and road safety is more important that ever. In 2015, AAA alone responded to over 32 million roadside emergencies which included flat tires, dead batteries and lost keys. And it’s not just older vehicles that are experiencing these problems.
Unfortunately, it can happen to any of us at any time especially with the amount of ongoing road construction work taking place across the country. Being prepared for a roadside emergency is just as important today as any time before so we’ve put together our recommendations and Road Safety Tips.
Move Your Vehicle To Safety
If something happens while you’re driving, pull your vehicle as far off of the road as safely possible and as quickly as possible. Obviously you want to move away from the main traffic flow and while maintaining safety for yourself, your passengers and other drivers. So while looking for a place to pull over safely, be sure it is not in a blind spot for approaching cars, just over the top of a hill or on a narrow road or bridge.
Look for a wide shoulder on the road, an emergency lane, rest stop, or parking lot. If at night or inclement weather try and find an area that provides good lighting.
Try to avoid stopping on the left shoulder of a major freeway as it may be difficult to exit your vehicle and you won’t be able to safely cross the freeway.
Call For Help
If you have roadside assistance through your insurance, an auto club, or as part of your vehicle purchase, then give them a call as soon as your are safe. They are typically available 24/7 and many offer GPS tracking service so you will be able to follow the progress of the dispatched service and know when they will arrive.
Be sure to have their phone number stored in your cell phone and recorded in your Integrity Resources Custom Insurance Card Holder as a backup.
Before calling, try to determine your exact location making note of the exact side of the street you are on (North, South, East, West) and what direction you are facing. Also note any specific landmarks, building signs, etc that are nearby.
Provide your vehicle make, type, color and license plate number. Also how many people are in the vehicle.
If your vehicle won’t run, damaged or unable to drive, stay in your vehicle and call for help. If you are in an unsafe area, call the police and stay in your car with the doors locked until help arrives.
You may need to roll your windows down slightly to keep air circulating if your engine is not operational. However, for safety concerns, only roll them down a very small amount. Use extreme caution when asked to roll down your windows or open your doors to strangers who may be offering to assist.
When help arrives, ask for proof of identity.
Immediately turn on your emergency flashers. This will help other vehicles to recognize there is a problem and you may need to take some emergency actions.
Exit Your Vehicle Only When Safe
Once your vehicle has safely moved out of the flow of traffic and you have determined it safe to do so, you can exit the vehicle. Be sure to get out on the opposite side of traffic, even if you have to crawl across the passenger seat. If there is any possibility of risk, don’t exit your vehicle, even to open the hood or check out the possible damage. Just not worth the risk.
If you do leave your vehicle and go to another location nearby, lock the doors and leave a note on the windshield with your mobile phone number for the roadside assistance or if police arrive.
Increase Your Visibility
You already activated your emergency flashers, and if you have safety triangles, flares or an emergency light, use them as well to increase your visibility. At the very least you’ll want to raise your vehicle’s hood. This will let everyone know that you’re having vehicle problems and need help. If you’re stopped at night, be sure to leave your lights on.
Be Alert To Passing Vehicles
If you’ve pulled onto the shoulder of the road, be aware that you and your vehicle may only be separated by a few feet from the other vehicles traveling past at a high rate of speed. Someone passing may not be paying full attention or distracted by their cellphone can pose a danger and risk to your safety.
If you can safely exit your car it is best to do so and move a safe distance away while waiting on emergency road service. If you’re attempting to make your own repairs, be extra careful especially if you are working on the side of vehicle closest to the traffic. If traveling with someone else, have them keep an watch for potential danger. No tire is worth the risk.
Turn Your Steering Wheel
After you safely stop your vehicle, It’s a good idea to turn your steering wheel in the opposite direction of the road as an added precaution in the event your vehicle might begin to accidentally roll it would not roll towards the traffic.
Flat Tire or Blowout
If you have a flat tire or blowout, pull onto as level and firm a surface as possible to enable the car jack to be properly and safely used.
Besides the normal roadside tools provided with your vehicle (jack, lug wrench, etc) it is advisable to also carry some extra roadside tools like work gloves, screwdrivers, wrenches, duct tape, towel or mat, knife, window cleaning solution, paper towels, jumper cables, air pressure gauge for proper road safety.
Keep Emergency Supplies Handy
You should also consider having Emergency Supplies available at all times in your vehicle so you are prepared to deal with road hazard emergencies in any conditions or weather. At minimum you should have an Emergency First Aid Kit in your vehicle.
You should also consider the following:
- Drinking Water
- Extra Medication
- Flashlight With Extra Batteries
- Flares, Warning Triangles or Reflectors
- Mylar Blanket
- Permanent Marker and Notebook
- Car Phone Charger
- Ice Scraper
- Fire Extinguisher
- Tire Inflator
- Emergency Light
If you would like a PDF version of our Road Safety TIPS to keep in your vehicles, you can download a copy here.