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What To Do If Your Car Breaks Down

Most of us will experience a vehicle breakdown at some point in our lives.

This can be a very scary experience, especially if you are unsure what your next steps should be. Here are some tips to help you and your loved ones be prepared for this emergency.

First, as soon as you notice a problem, gently and smoothly remove pressure from the accelerator, and allow the car to slow. Avoid braking hard or suddenly if you are able. If possible, steer your vehicle toward the side of the road or breakdown lane. Try to reach the nearest exit if you are on the interstate. Use appropriate signals to alert other drivers to your intentions, and remain aware of traffic around you. Watch your mirrors carefully. Even if you suspect a flat tire, it is better to reach a safe place to attempt a repair even if that means damaging the wheel. Never get out of the vehicle to examine or attempt a repair on a busy highway or other high speed or high traffic area. If you are unable to reach a safe area it is advised to remain inside the vehicle until help arrives. Use a cell phone to call for help.

In the case of an accident, motion the other driver to pull over in a safe location ahead, and call police immediately after stopping the vehicle.

Once you are off the road in a safe location, begin by making your vehicle as visible as possible. Place reflector triangles or road flares behind your vehicle, and keep on your emergency flashers. Raise your hood, tie a white t-shirt or other material to your antenna, or hang it out the window to alert police or tow truck drivers you are in need of assistance. Wait inside your vehicle for help to arrive unless the vehicle is in the roadway – in this circumstance move away from the vehicle to a safe location.

If it is dark outside, turn on the interior light for more visibility. Wait inside the vehicle with the doors locked, and if someone stops to offer help, open the window only slightly, and ask them to call police if you have not been able to do so yourself. Avoid actions such as exiting the vehicle or opening the car door in the presence of a stranger. Keep an eye out for a uniformed police officer or other emergency personnel, as all interstate highways and major roads are regularly patrolled.

If it is day, and you can do so safely, exit the vehicle to examine the damage, change the tire if it is flat, or reach help if the vehicle is inoperable. Some highways have “call for help” phones att periodic intervals. Never try to walk on the interstate or during inclement weather, when visibility may be low and conditions could further endanger your safety.

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