How to Handle and be Prepared For a Roadside Emergency:
Most drivers will encounter at least one roadside emergency in their lives – especially in older vehicle models. While a roadside emergency sounds frightening, it can be safely managed if you know how to properly react when the worst happens. Follow these tips for what to do in different types of roadside emergencies.
A car accident is one of the most common roadside emergencies. It describes a collision between two or more vehicles or a vehicle and a fixed object. In 2019, US traffic accidents took 39,096 lives and injured over 1 million others (source: the Insurance Information Institute). Knowing what to do after a car accident can help your physical health as well as protect your legal rights.
- Stay where you are and report the crash to the police.
- Exchange contact information with the other driver.
- Check for injuries and go to a hospital, if necessary.
- Take photographs of the crash and collect information.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer to help you file a claim.
With these steps, you should be able to gather enough information about your crash to file a successful insurance claim. If you need assistance, a lawyer can represent you during negotiations with the insurance company. A lawyer can also help you take your case to court.
Flat or Blown Out Tire
Tire problems such as flats or blowouts often cause roadside emergencies. A flat tire is a slow leak from an object that penetrates the tire, such as a nail, while a blowout is a tire that suddenly explodes, often from issues with the tire wall or tread. If you experience a tire problem, take the following steps to safely neutralize the situation.
- Do not slam on the brakes. Remove your foot from the gas pedal to slowly decelerate.
- Keep the steering wheel firmly in your grasp. Do not jerk the wheel.
- Slowly steer your vehicle toward an exit or breakdown lane, signaling as you do so.
- Rather than stopping in traffic, steer your car to a safe place and roll to a stop.
- Turn on your emergency hazard lights and wait in your vehicle for help to arrive.
If you have AAA or a similar service, a technician can come to your location to either replace your tire with a spare or tow you to the nearest auto shop. If you have a spare tire and know how to change a tire yourself, do so if you can safely from where you are.
Ran Out of Gas
Running out of gas is an issue that may arise if you are a new driver, if you purchase a new car and are unfamiliar with its tank capacity, if your gas gauge is broken, or if you have a fuel leak. If you notice your engine sputtering or backfiring, leading to your car stalling, you have probably run out of gas.
Turn on your hazard lights and carefully steer your car to the side of the road. This may be difficult if your car has stalled and you have no power steering. If you cannot move out of the road, use your hazards and stay inside your vehicle until help arrives. Call a roadside assistance service or a friend to come to your aid with a container of gas. This should be enough to allow you to restart your vehicle and drive to the nearest gas station.
Locked Out of Your Car
If you have roadside assistance to come unlock the car, make the call and wait in a safe place if you are in an unfamiliar or dangerous area. Without this option, call someone who has a spare key to come to your aid. Do not try to open the door yourself using a wire hanger or another tool, as this could damage your door or electrical system. The best thing to do in this scenario is to prepare ahead of time by making a copy of your car key and keeping it someplace safe.
Respond to a car that overheats by turning on your heat. Expelling hot air into the cab can reduce the temperature under the hood. This may be enough to temporarily resolve the issue until you can go to an auto shop. If not, pull over and turn the engine off. Allow your car to cool down for at least 15 minutes. Then, open the radiator cap and add coolant (or water, in a pinch). Drive immediately to the closest repair station.