Having a roadside emergency is distressing, especially when it happens at night or far from immediate assistance. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that you survive the mishap before you get assistance. Read on to find out more.
1. Move from the road
If your car can still be safely driven, slowly direct it to the side of the road to allow other road-users to pass unobstructed. In high-traffic areas, see if you can manoeuvre the car to a lane with less traffic, an emergency lane, a parking lot or another exit before stopping. Avoid stopping at blind corners, bridges, narrow roads, steep hills and other potentially dangerous places.
2. Alert other motorists
Turn on your hazard lights to let other motorists know that there's a problem with your car so they can approach cautiously. You can also put down emergency triangles if you have them. Place them a few metres before and after your vehicle facing on-coming traffic. If you don't have triangles, raise the hood of the vehicle to signal that you have car trouble.
3. Alight safely
If you cannot move the car away from traffic safely, wait until it's safe to leave the vehicle. You may need to crawl across to the passenger's side to exit safely, especially when the car is stalled on the road. If you're in the middle of a road with multiple lanes, use your mirrors to cautiously exit, alerting on-coming drivers that you have a problem. Once you're out, you can pop the hood or examine the vehicle to find out what's wrong.
4. Call for help
If your car is stalled and you don't know why, you should contact roadside assistance services to help you get the car to a mechanic. It's important to have a provider's number in your phone even if you've never had an emergency. If you do not have it, enter your location online and find out who is closest to you. You can also find out the closest garage from your breakdown point and ask to be taken there. Don't insist on going home or to your regular mechanic if it's too far away; remember that it costs more to be towed for a longer distance. You can get "first-aid" repair – just what's needed to get you driving safely – and then drive down to your regular mechanic for comprehensive repair.
5. Stay near the car
Don't leave your car stalled somewhere and go. Stay there until the tow-truck arrives so that you can keep track of what is happening. If you're in a dangerous place, remain inside the vehicle with your doors locked and windows raised. Even before calling the tow-truck, call the police and let them know your car is stalled in a dangerous place so that a unit can be sent to you.
6. Have an emergency kit
Having an emergency kit will ensure you can sort small problems without calling for towing services each time. In the boot of your car, you should have a first aid kit, some water, a blanket, a small fire extinguisher, a spare tyre, a car jack and some simple car-repair tools. This way, even if you're not very handy, other motorists can help you with small problems to get you back on the road.