How To Be Prepared For A Car Emergency On The Highway
January 14, 2011
If you are an active driver, chances are at some point you have or will face an emergency while driving. This might involve an accident, a malfunctioning vehicle, a flat tire, or even bad weather. However, know that any emergency can be handled if you are able to keep your panic in check and a clear head. If you let your fear get the best of you or act impulsively, you could risk worsening the situation and even an injury or death.
There are real threats when you drive and it is wise for you to educate yourself in order to be prepared for an emergency. The most common place for an emergency to occur is on the highway. Of course, pulling off to the shoulder of an expressway alone is dangerous but if you follow these rules, you can handle this situation correctly.
First, the moment you know you are in a compromised situation, put your emergency or hazard lights on to alert other drivers. This is especially important if you are trying to get off the highway and on to the shoulder. Considering the speeds that most highway drivers travel at, the mere fact that your car might be malfunctioning in such a way that you have to slow down considerably puts you at risk. Put your hazards on and make sure you use your turn signals to let other drivers know you are trying to get over and out of traffic.
As you are pulling off onto the shoulder, consider if the surface is pavement or if it turns to gravel. Your car will handle differently on both. Once you have stopped, make sure your vehicle is as visible as possible. If it is nighttime or light is limited, turn on your low beams and make sure interior lights are on. Keep your hazard lights on.
Depending on where you have stopped, make sure other passengers are secure and safe. For instance, if you had to stop in a place that might be risky or could reduce your visibility to other drivers, like around a curve or at the bottom of a hill, it is important for you to get other passengers out of the vehicle and at a safe distance away if possible. If it is bad weather, consider your options carefully.
If you have a cell phone, call for help immediately. Try to relay any details about your location to the individual on the other end of the phone, such as mile markers and other signs that could point out your location. If you realize you need immediate help and want to try to get a passing motorist's attention, open your hood and tie a cloth or other material attention to a door handle or an antennae that could alert another party.
While waiting for help, do your best to stay sheltered and safe. If you are planning on doing long distance highway travel make sure you pack an emergency kit with bottled water, blankets, jumper cables and flares.
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