The summer season sees the heaviest amount of road travel out of the entire year, and all of those extra cars unfortunately mean there is added danger on the road. For example, the month with the most reported auto accidents occurs in August, with June and July close behind.
What happens on the road is important, but drivers need to also be aware of the dangers of stopping beside a busy highway. It may be something as simple as a flat tire, empty fuel tank, or overheated engine, or something as serious as mechanical failure, but regardless, safety should be your primary concern when you are forced to pull over on the side of a road.
Here are a few tips from auto experts at Consumer Reports that can keep you and your family from getting injured in a roadside emergency.
Get off the road
The very first thing you need to do if you are forced to pull over is to get your vehicle as far off the road as safely possible. Cars that are too close to moving traffic are at risk of getting sideswiped or hit by a passing vehicle, which could endanger the occupants. If your vehicle is parked in or near moving traffic, then move yourself and your family to a safer location. And remember to exit from the passenger side of the car to avoid getting struck by a passing vehicle if necessary.
Make your car as visible as possible
As soon as you begin slowing down to pull off the road, turn on your hazards and once stopped, use any additional warning indicators you may have—flares, hazard triangle, warning light, etc. This will alert other motorists to your presence, which is especially important at night when it becomes harder to see your car pulled over from a distance.
Display a distress signal
If you require assistance—from police or passing motorists—display a universal distress signal, like raising the hood of your car, tying a white cloth to your antenna, or hanging the cloth on your door. Situations where this may be necessary include: breaking down in a desert or on an otherwise remote stretch of road, or being unable to use your cell phone to call for help.
Lock your doors
If you are pulled over in an unsafe location, then wait for help inside your car with the doors locked.
Exercise discretion when it comes to accepting help from strangers. If someone who you feel is suspicious pulls over, remain in the car with the doors locked and roll your window down just enough to tell them that help is already on the way, or ask them to make a call for you.
Roadside emergencies happen, but don’t let a flat tire or mechanical failure ruin your family vacation by forgetting proper safety.
Visit Consumer Reports to learn what items you should have in your roadside emergency kit.