There’s nothing fun about your vehicle breaking down.
It always happens at the worst time – like when you’re going to work or picking up your kids – and is usually followed by a trip to the mechanic.
Insurance companies will usually cover drivers who are at-fault in accidents related to vehicle breakdowns. Blown tires and popped brake lines are just a few of the issues that could have you unexpectedly calling a tow truck – and your insurance agent.
Don’t make matters worse by putting yourself in danger after a breakdown. Here are some AAA tips for staying safe at the roadside.
Assess the Problem
Be prepared to respond to warning signs like steering problems, unusual noises or smoke coming from under the hood. If you get a flat tire or run out of gas, don’t panic. Signal, gradually slow down and carefully pull onto the shoulder of the road. Avoid sudden maneuvers.
Know Your Location
Note your surroundings and general location, like where you are in relation to a major exit or cross street. Look for well-lit areas.
Pull off the Road
Try to exit onto the far-right shoulder, as far off the road as possible while remaining on level ground. If you are driving on an interstate or multiple-lane highway with medians, you may consider the left shoulder, pulling as far away from traffic as possible.
If you can pull away from traffic, it is safest to remain in your vehicle until a law enforcement officer or road service provider arrives. But if you must exit the car, never stand behind or directly in front of it. That might help you avoid injuries if it’s struck by another vehicle.
Don’t risk personal injury by trying to push your vehicle to safety. If can’t move your car away from traffic, put on your emergency flashers, cautiously exit the car and move away from the road to a safer location.
Make your vehicle visible, remembering that other vehicles may be traveling at high rates of speed. Turn on the emergency flashers, especially at night or during inclement weather. Raise your vehicle’s hood. If you have a brightly colored handkerchief or scarf, tie it to the antenna or door handle or stick it in a window. Place warning triangles behind your car to direct oncoming traffic away from the vehicle. You can also use flares, unless you notice a fuel leak.
Communicate Your Situation
Once you’re in a safe location, notify others.
After a breakdown, you might have to leave your car somewhere overnight. It’s always a good idea to take valuables with you, but if you can’t, your items are most likely protected: Homeowners and renters insurance typically covers personal items stolen from your vehicle.
For more information on staying safe on the road, visit AAA.com/RoadsideAssistance.