TIPS: What To Do If You’re Stuck on the Side of the Highway

this is a picture of a car on a road side

The inevitable happens: cars break down. Sometimes, you’ll walk outside in the morning to head to work, and your car won’t crank. Other times, your car decides to malfunction while you’re driving 65 mph down the highway. If this is the case, there are a few tips you can follow to help ensure your safety and help make the situation easier to handle.

1. Pull Over (Way Over)

If you can manage, drive your car to the nearest exit. In many cases, however, the car will not make it that far, so just be sure to move your car as far away from the road as you can safely manage. You should use signal lights if you switch lanes or to communicate your intentions to merge into the emergency lane or onto the median. Turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers that you are having car troubles and are parked.

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

If you have moved your car safely away from traffic, be sure to check your mirrors and inspect your surroundings for various safety hazards before stepping out of your vehicle. If the situation looks particularly dangerous, or if a stranger pulls up behind you, remain in your vehicle and lock your doors. If you feel unsafe, you should always call the police.

3. You May Be Able to Determine the Issue

Sometimes, newer model cars will have sensors attached to indicator lights on your dashboard. This could help you understand if the problem is with your battery, engine, fuel levels, or if you have a problem with your tire pressure. You may need to reference your manual to determine what the lights mean. If your car is smoking or inflamed, exit the vehicle calmly and quickly and move as far away from it as you can.

this is an image of a car stuck on the road side know the surroundings

4. Call For Help

If you have roadside assistance, you should call them immediately. If not, you can call the local highway helpline for a list of contact numbers. You may want to call a towing company, a mechanic, or the police department to receive help. It can be unsafe to walk down a busy highway, especially in upset weather conditions. However, if you do not have access to a phone and your path of travel seems clear and safe, you may need to walk to a nearby location in order to receive help. Service stations or local stores may let you borrow a phone.

5. Arrange a Temporary Ride

Once you have contacted a towing service or mechanics shop and have made arrangements to have your car moved, you may need to call a friend to pick you up. Some repairs can take days or weeks, so it is a good idea to arrange necessary transportation for the upcoming days.

6. Don’t Abandon Your Vehicle

this is a picture of a car on the side of the road

While the laws vary by state, county, and city, most areas have a designated amount of time that an abandoned car is allowed to sit. If you leave your car on the highway for too long, (usually a few days) the local authorities will stick a tag, ticket, or warning on your vehicle stating that it needs to be moved. If the vehicle is not moved in an appropriate amount of time, it can be towed and impounded at your expense. You can also be issued a ticket.

7. Always Remain Calm

In any case, it is important to react calmly when you find yourself stuck roadside. Panic can lead to illogical or irrational decisions and stress. You should always put your safety first in emergency situations.

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