Photo by Luke Stackpoole
You can blame it on poor driving skills, bad luck, or some sort of divine punishment, but the truth is, car trouble can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. It’s important that, as a driver, you’re able to handle yourself well during these situations. So, without further ado, here are half a dozen things you need to keep in mind.
Don’t stop in the middle of the road
Never. Don’t do it. Just don’t. On a freeway, all motorists usually drive at very high speeds. They also never assume that there are any blockages so, if your car breaks down and you leave it in the middle of the road, chances are that you’re going to get hit by an unsuspecting vehicle. Worse, the vehicle behind you might see you a little too late and swerve into the opposite lane which can be very dangerous. How to avoid that? Well, your car won’t just stop immediately. When something is wrong, it shows; maybe your car would slow down or you might notice a strange noise coming out of the car. As soon as this happens, pull off to the side of the road. Then, you can do whatever it is that you want to do.
Draw attention to your car
Pulling off to the side of the road is not enough to prevent vehicles from running into you. First of all, it is very important that you park your car as far from the road as possible. Second, make sure your hazard lights are lit. Third, remember those reflective lights that you never thought you’d ever use? That is the time to break out those babies. This will ensure that you’re visible to any car that’s passing by. In general, it would stop people from running into you, and as a best-case scenario, someone might pull over and give you a hand.
Depending on how dangerous the problem is, you should decide whether or not your passengers should evacuate the car – consider a deflated tire Vs. a cloud of smoke coming out of the hood situation. Following this decision, start assessing the damages. What’s your first impression? If it is a simple problem that’s easy to handle, better get out that toolbox and start working. Keep in mind, though, that at all times you are off the road. The last thing you want is to mindlessly occupy a part of the road while changing a tire; a speeding car might knock the life out of you. On the other hand, the problem might be a little more serious.
Call for help
You’re not expected to know everything about cars, that’s for sure. So, if the problem with your car seems unidentifiable, don’t waste any more time. A highway is not the best place to start learning. Especially, if you live in a country like Australia, where roads stretch out endlessly, and sometimes without rest-stops for several kilometers. It’s better to call for help as soon as you fail to get a proper first impression of the problem.
Now, there’s something very important that you’ll need to keep in mind. Not every roadside assistance company is a trusted one. Some companies may end up capitalizing on your critical situation. Taking Australia as an example, they tend to rely on their towing services as they are organized and trustworthy. So when there are breakdowns in cities such as Melbourne, they always turn to well known towing companies that can actually lend reliable and quick services that can help in no time at all. According to FastMelbourneTowing.com.au, it is important that you choose a company that won’t take advantage of you in a time of need. Not only that, but it is also important that you make sure that the company you call is properly licensed.
Have you called for assistance? Did you specify your location and your car’s color, make, model, and license plate? Did they tell you how long it’ll take them to be there? If you’ve checked on all these boxes, welcome to the next step; waiting. This one can be quite tricky depending on where and when your car broke down. Most importantly, remember that safety always comes first. If you’re in a deserted area, you should consider staying in our car and keeping your doors and windows locked and shut. Also, remember not to keep the engine running for too long; it’s a waste of fuel and you may be risking getting carbon monoxide poisoning.
As the driver, you probably know about what’s happening more than any of your other passengers. Remember that the situation can be frustrating for them as it is for you. If you have any youngsters on board, take the time to calm them down or distract them a little. Besides, it is always best to keep everyone fully informed. This will definitely help settle any anxieties building up.
Regardless of how easy it is to handle the situation, no one likes to be stranded on the side of the road. So, before you even set out on your journey, it is better to take some precautions. A full check-up on your car can’t hurt. Be sure to pack enough supplies; water and snacks, in case your car bails on you in the middle of nowhere. Finally, always keep a fully stocked roadside emergency kit with you; that’s non-negotiable.