Don’t Let Breaking Down Get You All Shook Up

2 06 2010

Dale BertramThe first reaction many people have when their car breaks down is panic.  “I can’t believe this has happened to me!”  Unfortunately, it does happen even when someone is diligent about maintaining their vehicle.  At the first sign of a problem they want to slam on their brakes which isn’t a wise move.  It can actually cause you to lose control of the car.

As soon as you realize you are having a problem cautiously make your way to the side of the road. Be sure to move gently and smoothly without a hard braking motion. Then put your hazard lights on. Make sure your car is as visible as possible and if it is dark outside turn on the interior dome light as well. This lets other drivers realize you have a situation and they are more apt to give you some space.  The best place to be is on the right shoulder if at all possible.  If not, just do your best to get out of an active lane of traffic.  It seems we don’t realize just how fast cars are going until we are sitting there on the sidelines and feel the rush of wind as they fly past us.

The worst case scenario is if your vehicle is smoking or on fire.  In this instance, get out of the vehicle quickly.  If it isn’t smoking or on fire and it is clearly out of the active lane of traffic, it is best to stay inside your vehicle unless you clearly know how to fix the vehicle yourself or you need to raise the hood to signal for assistance.  Only exit the vehicle from the passenger side to avoid getting hit from oncoming traffic. A very dangerous situation is when you are changing a flat tire while on the driver’s side of the vehicle close to traffic.

According to AAA, close to 600 people a year dies as pedestrians on America’s interstate system.  This is why we urge people to stay in their vehicles if at all possible. If you know you can’t fix the vehicle yourself, or drive even a short way to an auto repair shop, call for help. 

Remember to stay calm and as always, safety should be your first consideration.

Happy Motoring!

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