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Dealing with roadside breakdowns safely

Mar. 05, 2013 @ 12:04 AM

The AAA East Central offers the following advice for coping with roadside breakdowns:

When your car breaks down

Since surroundings, traffic patterns and vehicle hazards vary, it is important to continually monitor and evaluate your situation.

If the car is clearly experiencing a problem but can still be driven a short distance, drive to a safe location such as a parking lot. If the vehicle stops running but still has coasting momentum, guide it to the far right shoulder as far off the road as possible while remaining on level ground. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other motorists.

If the car cannot get completely off the roadway, switch on the safety/emergency flashers and consider leaving the vehicle and moving to a safer location. Occupants should not remain in a vehicle if there is a possibility it may be struck by other traffic. For the same reason, it is generally not a good idea to attempt to push a disabled car off the road.

Drivers and passengers should exit a broken down car on the side away from traffic if at all possible. Use extreme caution and watch for oncoming vehicles, especially at night or in bad weather when visibility is limited. While waiting for help, never stand directly behind or in front of the disabled vehicle.

In addition to turning on a vehicle's emergency flashers, drivers can signal other motorists that they have a problem by raising the car hood, tying a brightly colored handkerchief or scarf to the antenna or door handle, or setting out flares, warning triangles or emergency beacons. These signals can help other drivers recognize there is a problem and hopefully prompt them to slow down, move over to allow more room and proceed with caution as they pass.

Communicate your situation

Once the driver and passengers are in a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider such as AAA. Make note of surroundings, landmarks, buildings or road signs to help relay your location. Android and iPhone users can also download the AAA Mobile app which provides easy access to roadside assistance, vehicle battery quotes, Approved Auto Repair (AAR) locations, maps, directions, member-exclusive discounts and travel planning.

Where do I send my car?

Once assistance arrives, if the technician is unable to remedy the problem at the roadside, the car will have to be towed somewhere for repair. Unless the driver is a savvy automotive do-it-yourselfer who wants the car towed home, the vehicle will most likely be towed directly to a repair facility.

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