The tragic scenario is all too common: a motorist whose car has broken down is struck by another vehicle as he tries to inspect the problem. Whether you’re in a minor fender bender or are experiencing engine troubles, it’s important to remember some basic tips to prevent injury and keep safe. Statistics show that more than 15 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occur on highways, where fast-moving traffic is the norm.
In the event of a collision or vehicle breakdown, you can avoid becoming another unfortunate statistic by following these guidelines.
If your car is seriously damaged in a collision or won’t run, call for help as soon as possible. If you are in a dangerous neighborhood and don’t have emergency roadside assistance, call the police and remain in your vehicle.
Visibility is essential to staying safe, especially on busy highways where the average speed is 70mph. Turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights and activate emergency flares if you have them.
Try and move your vehicle off the road and as far away from traffic as possible. This may be an emergency lane, or the very far side of the shoulder. If you are on a heavily trafficked interstate or freeway, try and make it to the nearest highway exit. If you are unable to move your vehicle away from traffic and worry that you may be struck from behind, carefully exit the car and move to a safer locale. Open the car hood so police or tow trucks will know roadside assistance is needed.
Standing next to, in front of or behind a broken-down vehicle is a recipe for disaster, warn AAA experts. If there is no danger of another vehicle striking your own, it is safer to remain inside until help arrives—especially when you’re surrounded by fast-moving traffic.
If you were involved in an accident, remain with the vehicle until the police arrive. Be sure to gather information from other motorists involved, including their full names, address, policy number and license plate numbers.
Program your cell phone with emergency numbers, including that of your roadside assistance provider, and keep a backup written list in your glove compartment.
Your parents probably told you this a thousand times, but it’s important to keep in mind. There are plenty of great people out there eager to help people in trouble. However, there are also a handful of bad people out there that can put you in danger. If a stranger pulls over and offers to help you, it’s probably best to remain in the car with your doors locked. You can roll down the window slightly and tell them help is on the way. Call the police if need be. Unfortunately, we need to be more careful with people these days, so please remember, safety first!
Everyone’s experience is a little different when it comes to vehicles breaking down. It depends on where you are, the time of day, what you’re driving, and the problem. It’s important to know what’s going on around you while the vehicle is stopped.