Breaking down on a busy highway is easily one of the worst situations any motorist can face. Numerous factors make highways extremely dangerous for broken-down motorists and roadside assistance drivers who come to help. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, it's crucial to take steps to keep yourself and your tow driver safe.
Fortunately, you can do a few things to minimize the risk of a stressful highway breakdown. These three tips will help keep you safe while ensuring your tow truck driver can get your car out of this precarious situation.
1. Pay Attention to Warning Signs
The best thing you can do to stay safe is to avoid highway breakdowns in the first place. While some problems, such as tire blowouts or sudden overheating, are catastrophic enough to require you to pull over immediately, others may give you some warning signs. Don't ignore unusual sounds or other indications that your car may be suffering from a severe problem.
Trying to limp home with a car in serious mechanical distress often results in more damage and may force you off the road in an inconvenient or dangerous location. Instead, get off the highway at the first sign of trouble and locate a parking lot or safe area to call for help. The longer you push your luck, the greater the chance you'll need to pull over on a dangerously busy highway.
2. Use the Full Breakdown Lane
The key to highway safety is moving your car as far away from traffic as possible. If you have no choice but to pull over on a highway, follow these two simple rules:
- Use the right-side breakdown lane whenever possible
- Pull as far off the road as you can
The right lane typically offers more protection, keeps you away from oncoming traffic, and will (usually) expose you to vehicles traveling at slower speeds. Likewise, it's important to use the entire breakdown lane by moving your car as far off the road as possible. If there's no curb and an area of flat and even ground, move your car entirely off the road.
3. Never Step Into Oncoming Traffic
The downside to using the right breakdown lane is that your driver's door will face traffic. As a result, it's safest to stay in your car until help arrives. Once your tow truck driver is on the scene, move to the passenger side of your vehicle and exit on the side opposite traffic. This approach might seem awkward and inconvenient, but it's far safer than opening your door into a busy highway.
Once out of your vehicle, get away from traffic as quickly as possible. Either move away from the road or get into the tow truck immediately if you're receiving a ride with your roadside assistance driver. The less time you spend exposed to traffic on the highway, the safer your breakdown will be.
For more info about roadside assistance, contact a local company.