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02.27.2017 | Road Safety

What to do during a Highway Breakdown

In the event of a non-emergency highway breakdown, follow these tips to keep you and your vehicle safe.

1. Be Prepared for a Highway Breakdown

Next to preventative maintenance, the best thing you can do is be prepared in the event your vehicle breaks down. Always have a working cell phone with you and have emergency assistance/roadside assistance numbers programmed into your phone. Plus, ensure you have a working flashlight, hazard triangles or flares, a first aid kit and blankets in your vehicle at all times.

2. Pull Off the Road

At the first sign of vehicle trouble, pull onto the highway shoulder to your right as quickly and safely as possible. Remember to signal during a highway breakdown, and try to remain on level ground. Once safely stopped on the side of the road, engage your parking brake and turn your steering wheel in the opposite direction of the road.

If you need to pull onto the left shoulder, ensure that you are as far away from moving traffic as possible. If you cannot pull off the road, turn on your hazard lights. Do not risk injury by attempting to push your vehicle to a safe location.

3. Alert Others with Lights and Signals

Immediately turn on your emergency flashers to signal a problem. If it is safe to exit the vehicle, use hazard triangles or flares to alert other motorists of a problem. Place the triangle or flares approximately 15 metres behind your car to give other motorists adequate notice. Also, raise your vehicle hood or tie a white cloth to your door handle as a signal for assistance from police or other motorists.

4. Call for Help

Note your location, using your phone or vehicle GPS, closest exits or buildings and landmarks – then call 911. They will instruct you on what to do. Next, call a family member or friend and advise them of your situation and location. Finally, if you have emergency/roadside assistance, contact them and be sure to inform them that you have already called 911.

5. Stay in your vehicle

Your best option is to stay in your vehicle during a highway breakdown while waiting for help to arrive. While in your vehicle, keep the doors locked and your seatbelt fastened. Don't leave the engine running for extended periods, as it can put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Always exercise caution when accepting help from strangers. If you are suspicious, only lower your window enough to talk and let them know help is on the way, or to ask them to make a phone call for you. If you are threatened by a stranger, call 911. You can also honk the horn repeatedly and flash the lights to attract the attention of other motorists.

Only wait outside the vehicle if it is clearly unsafe to remain inside. When exiting the vehicle, always use the door on the opposite side of the roadway. Remember to never step onto the road, and always be mindful of the traffic and moving cars around you.


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